The Good Soldier Svejk Chapter 2.

At Budapest.

At the railway station in Budapest, Matushitch brought Captain Sagner a telegram from the command, sent by the wretched brigade commander who had been taken to a sanatorium. It was au clair and identical with the one delivered at the previous station : "Finish cooking promptly and advance on Sokol." To it was added: "Assign army service corps to eastern group. Reconnoitring work to be discontinued. Draft No. 13 to build bridge over River Bug. Further particulars in newspapers."

Captain Sagner at once proceeded to the railway transport

headquarters. He was received by a fat little major with a friendly smile.

"This brigade general of yours has been up to fine old pranks," he said, chuckling with gusto. "I had to deliver the drivel to you because we haven’t yet had any instructions from the division that his telegrams are to be kept back. Yesterday the 14th draft of the 75th regiment passed through here and the battalion commander had a telegram to say he was to issue six crowns extra pay to each man as a bonus for Przemyśl, and also that of these six crowns two were to be deposited here in the office as subscription to war loan. From what I hear on good authority, your brigade-general has got G. P. I."

"According to regimental orders, sir," said Captain Sagner to the railway transport officer, "we are to proceed to Gôdôlô. Each man is to be given five ounces of Emmenthaler cheese here. At the last stopping place they were to receive five ounces of Hungarian salami. But they got nothing."

"I expect that’s what’ll happen here, too," replied the major, still smiling affably. "I don’t know anything about such orders, at least as far as the Czech regiments are concerned." He spoke the last words meaningly. "Anyway, that’s not my business. You’d better apply to the commissariat."

"When are we leaving, sir?"

"In front of you there’s a train with heavy artillery for Galicia. We’re starting it off in an hour’s time. On the third track there’s a hospital train. That’s leaving twenty-five minutes after the artillery. On track No. 12 we’ve got a munition train. That leaves ten minutes after the hospital train and twenty minutes after that your train’s leaving.

"That is, of course, if there are no changes," he added, still smiling in a manner which made Captain Sagner feel quite sick.

"Excuse me, sir," Captain Sagner then asked. "Can you explain to me why you know nothing about orders relating to the issue of five ounces of Emmenthaler cheese per man in the Czech regiments?"

"There’s a special proviso about that," answered the railway transport officer at Budapest, still smiling.

"I suppose I was asking for it," thought Captain Sagner to himself, as he left the office. "Why the devil didn’t I tell Lieutenant Lukash to call together all platoon commanders and go with them to the commissariat to fetch five ounces of Emmenthaler cheese per man?"

Before Lieutenant Lukash, commander of the nth company, could carry out the orders of Captain Sagner relating to the procedure to be followed in respect of the issue of five ounces of Emmenthaler cheese per man, Schweik made his appearance before him, accompanied by the wretched Baloun.

Baloun was trembling from head to foot.

"Beg to report, sir," said Schweik with his customary aplomb, "this is most important matter, sir. I’d take it as a favour, sir, if we could just step on one side to talk it over, like one of my friends who was best man at a wedding and while he was in church he suddenly wanted to -"

"Well, what is it, Schweik?" interrupted Lieutenant Lukash, who had already begun to pine for Schweik, as much as Schweik for Lieutenant Lukash. "We can just walk on a little."

Baloun followed behind them, still trembling all over. He had quite lost his composure and was dangling his arms in the last stages of despair.

"Well, what is it, Schweik?" repeated Lieutenant Lukash, when they had moved a little further on.

"Beg to report, sir," said Schweik, "that it is always better to own up to a thing before the row starts. You gave definite orders, sir, that when we got to Budapest Baloun was to bring you your liver paste and rolls.

"Did you get that order or not?" added Schweik, turning to Baloun.

Baloun began to dangle his arms still more, as if he were about to defend himself against the onset of an enemy.

"I’m sorry to say, sir," continued Schweik, "that your order couldn’t be carried out. I ate your liver paste.

"I ate it," went on Schweik, nudging the horrified Baloun, "because I thought it might go bad. I’ve read over and over again in the papers that whole families have been poisoned with liver paste. There was one at Zderaz, another at Beroun, another at

Tâbor, another at Mladâ Boleslav, another at Pribram. They was all finished off by the poison. Liver paste’s shocking stuff."

Baloun, meanwhile, was standing on one side in a state of huge trepidation.

"What’s the matter with you, Baloun?" asked Lieutenant Lukash.

"B-b-beg t-to re-re-port, s-s-sir," began the wretched Baloun, "I—I—I a-a-ate it."

"You see how it is, sir," said Schweik, as cool as a cucumber. "I was going to take the blame on myself, and then this silly ass blurts it all out and gives himself away. He’s not a bad sort, you know, sir, but he eats up everything that’s put in his charge. I used to know another chap like that. He was a commissionaire in a bank. You could trust him with thousands. Why, one day he went to another bank to fetch some money and they gave him a thousand crowns too much and he took it back on the spot. But send him for a quarter of a pound of meat, and he’d eat half of it up before he got back. He was such a one for his grub that when the clerks used to send him to fetch liver sausage, he’d scoop lumps out with a pocketknife on the way and plug up the holes with court-plaster that cost him more for five sausages than a whole sausage would have done."

Lieutenant Lukash sighed and walked away.

"Any more orders, sir?" Schweik shouted after him.

Lieutenant Lukash waved him aside and proceeded to the commissariat. The odd idea struck him that when the troops were eating liver paste belonging to officers, there wasn’t much chance for Austria to win the war.

The signal was given for the train to start, and the men again returned without any rations. Instead of the five ounces of Emmenthaler cheese which was to have been served out, they each received a box of matches and a picture postcard, issued by the Austrian War Graves Committee. Instead of five ounces of Emmenthaler cheese, they were provided with a picture of the Western Galician Military Cemetery, with a monument to some unfortunate militiamen which had been prepared by Scholz, a sculptor and a volunteer sergeant-major, who had successfully managed to dodge the front.

There was quite a hum of excitement in the vicinity of the staff carriage. The officers of the draft had gathered round Captain Sagner, who was excitedly explaining something to them. He had just come back from the railway transport office, where he had received a very confidential (and genuine) telegram from brigade headquarters, a telegram containing news of far-reaching importance and accompanied by instructions as to how to act in the new situation which had arisen for Austria on May 22, 1915.

The telegram from the brigade stated that Italy had declared war on Austria-Hungary.

While they were still in Bruck, the officers during meals had frequently discussed, with their mouths full, the strange behaviour of Italy, but on the whole nobody had expected that the prophetic words of that fool of a Cadet Biegler would be fulfilled. One night at supper he had thrust from him a plate of macaroni and declared :

"I won’t eat any of that stuff till I reach the gates of Verona."

Captain Sagner, having perused the instructions just received from the brigade, gave orders for the alarm to be sounded.

When the whole draft had assembled, the men were drawn up in a square, and Captain Sagner, in an unusually solemn voice, read them the telegraphic message which had reached him from the brigade.

"As the result of unparalleled treachery and greed, the King of Italy has forgotten the fraternal agreement by which he was bound as an ally of our monarchy. Since the outbreak of the war, the treacherous King of Italy has been playing a double game and carrying on secret negotiations with our enemies, and this treachery reached its climax on May 22nd-23rd, by the declaration of war on our monarchy. Our supreme commander is convinced that our ever staunch and glorious troops will reply to this vile treachery on the part of a faithless ally with such a blow that the traitor will realize how, by having started war basely and treacherously, he was preparing his own destruction. We firmly trust that with God’s help the day will soon dawn when the plains of Italy will again see the victor of Santa Lucia, Vicenza, Novara, Custozza. We desire to conquer, we must conquer, and assuredly we shall conquer !"

After that they gave the usual three cheers, and the troops got back into the train, feeling rather dazed. Instead of five ounces of Emmenthaler cheese, they had war with Italy foisted off upon them.

In the truck in which Schweik was sitting with Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek and Chodounsky the telephonist, Baloun and Jurajda the cook, an interesting conversation had started on the subject of Italy’s entry into the war.

"Well, now that we’ve got another war," remarked Schweik, "now that we’ve got one more enemy and a new front, we’ll have to be more economical with the ammunition. ’The more kids there are in a family, the more canes are needed.’ That’s what old Cho-vanec used to say. He lived at Motol and he used to wallop all the kids in the neighbourhood at a flat rate, as they say."

"All I’m afraid of is," said Baloun with great concern, "that this Italian business is going to mean smaller rations."

Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek reflected and then said gravely :

"It’s bound to, because now it’ll take us a bit longer to win the war."

"What we want now," declared Schweik, "is another chap like Radetzky. He knew his way about in those parts and how to catch the Italians napping and what places to bombard and from what side to do it. It’s an easy enough job to get into a place. Anybody can manage that. But getting out again, that’s how a man shows if he’s good at soldiering or not. When you find your way in, you’ve got to know everything that’s going on all round you, or else all of a sudden you’ll find your number’s up and you’re in what they call a catastrophe. But old Radetzky, he knew every inch of the ground, he did, and they could never get at him. Once I read in a book about him how he skedaddled from Santa Lucia and the Italians skedaddled too, and it wasn’t until the next day that he discovered that it was really him who’d won, because he couldn’t spot any Italians there, even though he had a squint through a telescope. So back he goes as large as life, and made himself at home in Santa Lucia. They made him a field-marshal for doing that."

Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek had a sneaking regard for

Italy. In his drugstore at home he did a side line in lemonade which he manufactured from decayed lemons, and he always obtained the cheapest and most decayed lemons from Italy. Now there wouldn’t be any more lemons coming from Italy to Vanek’s drugstore at Kralup. There could be no doubt that the war with Italy was going to produce many awkward surprises like that.

Baloun, meanwhile, had been laboriously pondering about something, until finally he asked Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek, in a scared voice :

"Then you think, Sergeant, that all along of this war with Italy we’re going to have smaller rations served out?"

"You bet we are," replied Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek.

"God Almighty !" exclaimed Baloun, sinking his head in his hands and squatting glumly in a corner.

This definitely concluded the debate on Italy.

In the staff carriage, the conversation on the latest turn of events, brought about by Italy’s entry into the war, would certainly have been very dull, now that Cadet Biegler, that great expert on military strategy, was no longer there, if he had not been replaced, to a certain extent, by Lieutenant Dub of the 3rd company.

In civil life Lieutenant Dub was a school master who taught Czech as a special subject, and even before the war he had displayed an extraordinary propensity for ramming his loyalty down people’s throats on every possible occasion. The subjects for essays which he used to choose for his pupils were all taken from the history of the House of Habsburg. He had once set the top class an essay on "Emperor Franz Josef I as a Patron of the Arts and Sciences," and the result of this had been that one pupil was disqualified from ever again entering a secondary school in the Austro-Hungarian Empire for having written that this ruler’s finest achievement had been to establish the Franz Josef I Bridge in Prague.

He always made a point of seeing that on the Emperor’s birthday and other imperial festivities all his pupils sang the Austrian anthem with due enthusiasm. He was disliked among his fellow-townsmen because he was known to keep on the right side of the powers that be by telling tales about his colleagues. Among the

local dignitaries he formed one of a trio composing the biggest imbeciles and bigots, and consisting of himself, the district chief of police and the headmaster of the local grammar school.

Lieutenant Dub now began to hold forth in the tones of a priggish school master :

"On the whole I cannot say I am surprised at this action on the part of Italy. I expected this to happen three months ago. There can be no doubt that of recent years Italy has become extremely arrogant, in consequence of the successful war against Turkey. Moreover, she is placing too much reliance on her fleet and on the feeling among the population in our Adriatic areas and in south Tyrol. Before the war I used to tell our district chief of police that our government ought not to underestimate the irredentist movement in the south. He quite agreed with me, because every farsighted man who is concerned about the preservation of this empire must long ago have realized what would happen to us if we were to show too much indulgence toward such elements. I well remember that about two years ago, in the course of a conversation with our district of police, I stated that Italy was only waiting for the next opportunity of making a treacherous attack on us.

"And now they’ve done it !" he bellowed, as if all the others were disputing his statements, although all the regular officers who were listening to his speech were wishing that the talkative temporary gentleman would go to blazes.

"It is true," he continued in quieter tones, "that in the vast majority of cases people were apt to forget our former relations with Italy, those great days when our armies were glorious and victorious, in 1848 and in 1866, which are mentioned in to-day’s brigade orders. But I always did my duty, and just before the end of the school year, practically at the very beginning of the war, I set my pupils an essay on : ’Our Heroes In Italy from Vicenza to Custozza, or -’ "

And the drivelling Lieutenant Dub solemnly added :

" ’—Blood and Life for Habsburg, for an Austria Undivided and Uniquely Great.’ "

He paused and waited for someone else in the staff carriage to express views on the new situation, so that he could show them

that he had known five years previously how Italy would one day treat her Ally. But he was grievously disappointed, for Captain Sagner, to whom battalion orderly Matushitch had brought the evening edition of the Pester Lloyd from the railway station, remarked from the depths of his newspaper :

"Look here, that actress Weiner who was starring at Bruck when we were there, was playing last night at the Little Theatre in Budapest."

And this concluded the debate on Italy in the staff carriage.

Battalion Orderly Matushitch and Batzer, Captain Sagner’s orderly, viewed the war with Italy from a purely practical point of view, because, many years previously, when they were doing their regular military service, they had both taken part in manœuvres in south Tyrol.

"It won’t half be a sweat for us, climbing about on those mountains," said Batzer. "Captain Sagner’s got loads of boxes. There’s mountains where I come from, but it’s quite a different sort of stunt when you shove your gun under your coat and go to see if you can’t bag a hare or two on his lordship’s preserves."

"It’s all according to whether they’re going to send us off to Italy," said Matushitch gloomily. "I can’t say as I’d be exactly keen on trapesing about on those mountains and glaciers and whatnot with messages. And then the grub down there, why, it’s nothing but polenta and oil, oil and polenta."

"And I don’t see why we should be the ones to do this mountain stuff," said Batzer, waxing indignant. "Our regiment’s done its whack in Serbia and the Carpathians. I’ve done my share of carting the captain’s box about in mountains. I lost ’em twice : once in Serbia and then in the Carpathians, when we were getting it fair in the neck. Maybe there’s a third lot in store for me somewhere in Italy. And as for the grub -"

He spat with disgust.

Then he drew closer to Matushitch and said confidentially :

"You know, in my part of the country we make small dumplings with raw potatoes, we boil ’em, soak ’em in egg-yolk, stick plenty of bits of crust over ’em and then fry ’em on bacon."

He pronounced the last word with mysterious solemnity.

"And they’re just fine with sauerkraut," he added in melancholy tones. "I got no use for macaroni."

This completed their conversation about Italy.

As the train had now been standing in the station for more than two hours, the occupants of the other trucks believed to a man that the train was going to be turned round and sent to Italy. This was suggested by a number of queer things that had been happening to the echelon. All the men had again been chivvied out of the trucks, there had been a sanitary inspector with a disinfecting committee which had come and liberally sprinkled all the trucks with lysol, a proceeding which met with great disapproval, especially in the trucks containing bread rations. But orders are orders. The sanitation committee had issued orders to disinfect all trucks of echelon 728, and so they stolidly squirted lysol over quantities of bread rations and bags of rice. This alone showed that something special was going to happen.

After that, everybody was chivvied back into the trucks, because an aged general had come to inspect the echelon. Schweik, who was standing in the back ranks, remarked to Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek on the subject of this worthy :

"There’s an old perisher for you !"

And the old perisher trotted along the ranks, accompanied by Captain Sagner, and stopped in front of a young recruit. Apparently by way of encouraging the rank-and-file as a whole, he asked where the young recruit came from, how old he was and whether he had a watch. The young recruit had a watch, but as he thought that he was going to get another one from the old gentleman, he said he hadn’t got one, whereupon the aged general gave a fatuous smile, such as Franz Joseph used to put on, whenever, on festive occasions, he addressed a few words to the mayors of towns, and said : "That’s fine, that’s fine," whereupon he honoured a corporal, who was standing near, by asking him whether his wife was well.

"Beg to report, sir," bawled the corporal, "I’m not married."

Whereupon the general, with a patronizing smile, repeated: "That’s fine, that’s fine."

Then the general, lapsing still further into senile infantility,

asked Captain Sagner to show him how the troops number off in twos from the right, and after a while, he heard them yelling : "One—two, one—two, one—two."

The aged general was very fond of this. At home he had two orderlies, and he used to line them up in front of him and make them number off : "One—two, one—two."

Austria had lots of generals like that.

When the inspection was safely over, and the general had lavishly expressed his approval to Captain Sagner, the men were given permission to move about within the precincts of the railway station, as a message had arrived that they were not leaving for another three hours. The men accordingly strolled about with an eye to the main chance, and as there were plenty of people in the station, here and there a soldier managed to scrounge a cigarette.

It was obvious, however, that the early enthusiasm which had evinced itself in the festive welcome extended to the troops in railway stations had sunk considerably and was being reduced to the point where cadging began.

Captain Sagner was met by a deputation from the League for Welcoming Heroes, consisting of two terribly jaded ladies who presented the gifts for the troops, to wit, twenty small boxes of throat pastilles (assorted flavours). These little boxes, which were distributed as an advertisement by a Budapest manufacturer of confectionery, were made of tin and on the lid was painted a Hungarian soldier shaking hands with an Austrian militiaman, with the crown of St. Stephen glittering above them. This was surrounded by an inscription in German and Magyar : "For Emperor, God and Country." The manufacturer of confectionery was so loyal that he put the Emperor before God.

Each box contained eighty pastilles, which worked out, on an average, at five pastilles for three men. Besides the pastilles, the jaded and worried ladies had brought a bundle of leaflets containing two prayers written by Géza Szatmur Budafal, Archbishop of Budapest. They were in German and Magyar, and contained the most dreadful imprecations against all enemies. According to the venerable archbishop, the Almighty ought to chop the Russians, English, Serbs, French and Japanese into mincemeat. The

Almighty ought to bathe in the blood of the enemy and slaughter them all as Herod did the babies. In his pious little prayers the worthy archbishop made use of such choice phrases as :

"May God bless your bayonets that they may penetrate deep into the entrails of your enemies. May the Almighty in His great righteousness direct your artillery fire upon the heads of the enemy staffs. Merciful God, grant that all our enemies may be stifled amid their own blood, from the wounds which we inflict upon them."

When the two ladies had handed over all these gifts, they expressed to Captain Sagner an urgent wish to be present at the distribution. In fact, one of them went so far as to say that on this occasion she would like to say a few words to the troops, whom she always referred to as "our brave boys."

They both looked terribly hurt when Captain Sagner refused them their wish. Meanwhile, the gifts were carted off to the truck which was being used as a store. The worthy ladies passed through the ranks and one of them patted a bearded warrior on the cheek. Knowing nothing about the exalted mission of these ladies, the warrior remarked to his comrades after their departure :

"There’s a couple of brazen old tarts for you! Fancy those ugly, flat-footed old geezers having the sauce to try and get off with soldiers !"

The station was in a regular hubbub. The Italian complication had caused a certain amount of panic. Two echelons of artillery had been held up and sent to Styria. There was also an echelon of Bosnians who for some unknown reason had been left there for two days and completely overlooked. They had not drawn any rations for two days and were now going about the streets of Ujpest, begging for bread.

At last the draft of the 91st regiment was again got together and went back into the trucks. But after a while, Matushitch, the battalion orderly, came back from the railway transport office with the news that they were not starting for another three hours. Accordingly, the men who had just been collected were again let out of the trucks. Then, just before the train started, Lieutenant Dub entered the staff carriage in a very agitated state and asked

Captain Sagner to have Schweik put under arrest immediately. Lieutenant Dub, who had been notorious as a talebearer among his fellow-teachers, was fond of having conversations with soldiers, with the idea of getting at their opinions and also so that he could explain to them didactically why they were fighting and for what they were fighting.

While strolling round, he caught sight of Schweik standing near a lamp post behind the station buildings, and examining with interest the poster of some charitable war lottery. This poster depicted an Austrian soldier impaling a scared and bearded Cossack against a wall.

Lieutenant Dub tapped Schweik on the shoulder and asked him how he liked it.

"Beg to report, sir," replied Schweik, "it’s a lot of rot. I’ve seen plenty of footling placards in my time, but I’ve never seen any flapdoodle as bad as that before."

"What is it you don’t like about it?" asked Lieutenant Dub.

"Well, sir, first of all I don’t like the way the soldier is handling the bayonet that he’s been trusted with and all. Why, he’ll smash it against the wall like that. And, besides, there’s no need for him to do it, anyhow, because the Russian’s put his hands up. He’s a prisoner and you got to treat prisoners properly. Fair’s fair, when all’s said and done. That chap’ll cop out for what he’s doing."

Lieutenant Dub continued his investigations into Schweik’s views and asked him:

"So you’re sorry for that Russian, are you?"

"I’m sorry for both of ’em, sir. For the Russian because he’s got a bayonet shoved through his inside, and for the soldier because he’s going to cop out for it. What’s the use of him smashing his bayonet like that, sir? Why, sir, when I was doing my regular service in the army, we used to have a lieutenant in our company and I bet the toughest sergeant-major hadn’t got the gift of the gab like that lieutenant. On the parade ground he’d say to us : ’When I say ’Shun, your eyes have got to start out of your head like a tomcat spewing into a saucer.’ But apart from that he was quite a nice chap. Once at Christmas time he went dotty and bought a cartload of cocoanuts for the whole company, and ever

since then I’ve known how easy it is to smash a bayonet. Half the company smashed their bayonets on those cocoanuts, and our colonel gave the whole company C. B. for three months, and the lieutenant was confined to his quarters."

Lieutenant Dub gazed cantankerously at the cheerful face of the good soldier Schweik and asked him in an angry tone :

"Do you know me?"

"Yes, sir, I know you."

Lieutenant Dub rolled his eyes and stamped his foot.

"Let me tell you that you don’t know me yet."

Schweik again replied, with unruffled calm :

"Beg to report, sir, I know you. You’re on our draft."

"You don’t know me yet !" yelled Lieutenant Dub. "You may know me from my good side, but wait till you know me from my bad side. If a man gets on the wrong side of me, I can make him wish he hadn’t been born. Now do you know me or don’t you?"

"I do know you, sir."

"I’ll tell you for the last time that you don’t know me, you jackass. Have you got any brothers?"

"Beg to report, sir, I’ve got one."

Lieutenant Dub was infuriated by the sight of Schweik’s calm, unruffled countenance and, unable to contain himself any longer, he bellowed :

"Then your brother must be the same sort of damned fool as you are. What’s he do for a living?"

"He’s a school master, sir. And now he’s got his commission."

Lieutenant Dub looked daggers at Schweik. Schweik bore Lieutenant Dub’s savage glance with dignified composure and the interview between them concluded with the order : "Dismiss !"

Each of them went his way thinking matters over from his own angle.

Lieutenant Dub, thinking of Schweik, decided that he would tell Captain Sagner to have him put under close arrest, while Schweik, for his part, reflected that he had come across some daft officers in his time, but Lieutenant Dub was the choicest specimen he had ever met.

Lieutenant Dub, who that day was particularly keen on training soldiers in the way they should go, found fresh victims behind

the railway station. They were two soldiers from the 91st regiment, but belonging to a different company, who under cover of darkness and in broken German were haggling with two of the street walkers who were swarming in the vicinity of the station.

As Schweik went his way he quite distinctly heard Lieutenant Dub’s shrill voice :

"But I tell you, you don’t know me."

"Do you know me?"

"But when you do know me -"

"I tell you, when you know me from the bad side."

"I’ll make you wish you’d never been born, you jackasses."

"Have you got any brothers?"

"Then they must be the same sort of damned fools as you are. What are they? In the army service corps? Very well, then. Just remember that you’re soldiers. Are you Czechs? Do you know that Palacky said that if Austria did not exist, it would have to be created? Dismiss."

Lieutenant Dub’s little stroll round, however, produced no positive results. He stopped three more groups of soldiers, but his educational endeavours "to make them wish they’d never been born" failed completely. His pride was hurt and that was why, before the train started, he asked Captain Sagner to have Schweik placed under arrest. He emphasized the necessity of isolating the good soldier Schweik, by reason of Schweik’s astoundingly impudent demeanour, and he described Schweik’s frank replies to his last question as insulting remarks. If things were to go on like, that, said he, the officers would be completely discredited in the eyes of the rank-and-file. Surely, he argued, none of the officers present could doubt that. He himself before the war had told the district chief of police that every person holding a superior position must aim at maintaining authority over his subordinates. The district chief of police had been of the same opinion. Specially now in the army during wartime, the nearer they got to the enemy, the more urgent it was to put the fear of God into the troops. For that reason he demanded that Schweik should be summarily punished.

Captain Sagner, who, as a regular officer, loathed all reserve officers, reminded Lieutenant Dub that proceedings of the kind

which he was suggesting could be carried out only through the orderly room and not by any slapdash methods as if it were a case of haggling with a street hawker about the price of potatoes. As regards Schweik, the proper person to approach in the first instance was the person to whose jurisdiction Schweik was amenable, and that person was Lieutenant Lukash. Such things as these were done simply and solely through the orderly room. As perhaps Lieutenant Dub was aware, they passed from the company to the battalion. If Schweik had done anything he ought not to have done, he would be had up in the company orderly room and then, if he wished to appeal, the matter would be passed on to the battalion orderly room. If, however, Lieutenant Lukash was willing and if he regarded Lieutenant Dub’s narrative as an official notification which should be followed by punitive measures, he had no objection to having Schweik brought up for cross-examination.

Lieutenant Lukash had no objection to this, but he pointed out that, as he was aware from what Schweik had told him on various occasions, Schweik’s brother was actually a school master and he had a commission.

Lieutenant Dub wavered and said that he had asked for Schweik to be punished in the broader sense of the term and that perhaps Schweik was not capable of expressing himself properly and his answers only seemed to be impudent, insulting and lacking in respect toward his superiors. Moreover, judging from the general appearance of the said Schweik, it was obvious that he was feeble-minded.

Thus, the thunderstorm passed over Schweik’s head without touching him.

Before the train started, the echelon was overtaken by a military train containing specimens of various units. They comprised stragglers or soldiers discharged from hospital and now sent to rejoin their regiments, and other suspicious characters returning from special stunts or spells in detention barracks.

Among the occupants of this train was volunteer officer Marek, who had been charged with mutiny for refusing to clean the latrines. The divisional court-martial, however, had discharged

him and he now made his appearance in the staff carriage to report himself to the battalion commander.

Captain Sagner, on seeing the volunteer officer and receiving from him his documents which contained the confidential remark : "A political suspect. Caution," was not altogether pleased.

"You’re a regular slacker," he said to him. "You’re a perfect pest. Instead of trying to distinguish yourself and attain the rank to which your education entitles you, you just loaf about from one detention barracks to another. You’re a disgrace to the regiment. But there’s a chance for you to make up for your past offences. Show that you’re devoted heart and soul to the battalion. Now look here. I’ll tell you what I’ll do. You’re an intelligent young fellow, and I’ve no doubt you’ve got a ready pen. Every battalion in the field needs a man to keep a proper record of what it achieves at the front. What he has to do is to note down all the successful operations, all the cases of distinguished conduct in which the battalion is concerned, and in that way he gradually does his bit toward producing a history of the army. Do you follow me?"

"Beg to report, sir, yes, sir. It’ll be a labour of love for me to place on record the gallant deeds of our battalion, especially now that the offensive is in full blast and the battalion is going into the thick of it."

"You will be attached to the battalion staff," continued Captain Sagner, "and you will keep an account of who is proposed for decorations, and then we will supply you with particulars which will enable you to record the marches testifying to the dauntless spirit and rigid discipline of the battalion. It’s not an easy task, but I hope you’ve got enough powers of observation to give our battalion a better show than any other unit can put up, if I supply you with the proper hints. I’ll send a telegram to regimental headquarters to say that I’ve appointed you keeper of the battalion records. Now report yourself to Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek of the nth company, so that he can make room for you in the carriage, and tell him to come to me."

Captain Sagner then had a brief talk to Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek. He merely reminded him that the keeper of the

battalion records, volunteer officer Marek, would be in the same truck with Schweik.

"I may as well tell you that this fellow Marek is a political suspect. Of course, that doesn’t mean much to-day. Lots of people are supposed to be that. But if he should start any talk of that kind, you know what I mean, just jump on him at once so that I shan’t have the unpleasant job of inquiring into it. Just tell him to drop all that sort of talk and that’ll be all right. But I don’t want you to come running to me. Tell him off, but do it in a friendly way. A little coaxing like that is always better than a lot of idiotic speechifying. Anyhow, I don’t want to hear anything

about it, because -You see what I mean. That’s the sort of

thing that spreads all over a battalion."

When Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek got back, he took Marek on one side and said to him :

"Look here, old chap, you’re a suspicious character. Not that I care. But be careful what you say in front of Chodounsky, the chap at the telephone."

Scarcely had he said this than Chodounsky came staggering in and threw his arms round the quartermaster-sergeant’s neck. In a drunken voice he yelled :

"We’ll always stick together. Anything I hear in the telephone I’ll come and tell you right away. A fat lot I care about their damned secrets."

Shortly afterward the order came that they were leaving in a quarter of an hour. As nobody would believe this, it came about that, in spite of all precautions, a certain number strayed away somewhere or other. When the train did start, eighteen men were missing, among them Sergeant Nasakl of the 12th draft, who, long after the train had vanished beyond Isatarcsa, was squabbling in a small shrubbery behind the station with a street walker who was demanding five crowns for services rendered.