The Good Soldier Svejk Chapter 5.

From Bruck-on-the-Leitha to Sokal.

Lieutenant Lukash, in a state of great agitation, was pacing up and down the office of draft No. II. It was a dark den in the company hutment, partitioned off from the passage by means of planks. A table, two chairs, a can of paraffin oil and a mattress. Facing Lieutenant Lukash stood Quartermaster-Sergeant Vanek, who spent his time drawing up pay lists and keeping the accounts for the rations of the rank-and-file. He was, in fact, the finance minister of the whole company, and he spent the entire day in that dark little den, which was also where he slept at night.

By the door stood a fat infantryman with a long, thick beard. This was Baloun, the lieutenant’s new orderly, who in civil life was a miller.

"Well, you’ve chosen a fine batman for me, I must say," said Lieutenant Lukash to the quartermaster-sergeant. "Thanks very much for the pleasant surprise. The first day I sent him to the officers’ mess for my lunch, and he ate half of it."

"Begging your pardon, sir, but I spilled it," said the bearded giant.

"AH right, then you spilled it. You might have spilled some soup or some gravy, but you couldn’t have spilled the roast meat. The piece you brought me was about big enough to cover my fingernail. And what did you do with the pudding?"

"I -"

"You ate it. It’s no use saying you didn’t. You ate it." Lieutenant Lukash uttered the last three words with such solemnity and stern emphasis that Baloun involuntarily stepped two paces backward.

"I’ve made inquiries in the kitchen, and I’ve found out what we had for lunch to-day. First of all, there was soup with dumplings. What did you do with those dumplings? You took them out on the way, didn’t you? Then there was beef with gherkins. What did you do with that? You ate that, too. Two slices of roast meat. And you only brought me half a slice, didn’t you? Two pieces of pudding. Where’s that gone to? You gobbled it up, you greedy hog, you. Come on, what did you do with that pudding? What’s that? You dropped it in the mud? You damned liar ! Can you show me the place where it’s lying in the mud? What’s that? A dog came up and ran away with it before you could stop him. For two pins I’d give you such a bloody good hiding that your own mother wouldn’t know you. You’d try to make a fool of me in the bargain, eh, you low-down skunk, you! Do you know who saw you? Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek, here. He came to me and said : ’Beg to report, sir, Baloun’s eating your lunch, the greedy hog. I was looking out of the window and saw him stuffing himself as if he hadn’t eaten anything for a week.’ Look here, sergeant, really you might have found something better for me than this lousy fellow."

"Beg to report, sir, Baloun seemed to be the most satisfactory man on our draft. He’s such a thickheaded idiot that he forgets all his drill as soon as he’s taught it, and if we was to let him handle a rifle, he’d only do some more damage. The last time he was practising musketry with blank cartridges, he nearly shot the next man’s eye out. I thought he’d be all right as an orderly, at any rate."

"And eat up an officer’s lunch," said Lieutenant Lukash, "as if his own issue of rations wasn’t enough for him. I suppose you’ll tell me now that you’re hungry, eh?"

"Beg to report, sir, I’m properly hungry. If anyone’s got any bread left over from his rations, I buy it from him for cigarettes, and even then it don’t seem enough, somehow. It’s just the way I’m made. Just when I think I can’t eat any more, I feel as if I’d got nothing inside me. If I see somebody eating, or just smell food, my inside comes over all empty like. Why, when I feel like that, I could chew up nails. Beg to report, sir, I made one application to receive a double issue of rations, and I went before the M. O. at Budejovice, but he gave me medicine and duty and ordered them to give me nothing all day but a small bowl of plain soup. ’I’ll teach you to be hungry, you impudent lout,’ he says ; ’just you come here again,’ he says, ’and you’ll be as thin as a rake before you get away again.’ As soon as I see anything that’s good to eat, it just makes my mouth water. I can’t help it, sir. Beg to report, sir, I’d take it as a great favour if you’d let me have a double issue of rations. If it’s not meat, something else’ll do ; some pudding, potatoes, dumplings, a little gravy—it all helps to keep you going."

"Well, of all the bloody impudence!" remarked Lieutenant Lukash. "Sergeant, have you ever come across a soldier with as much confounded cheek as this fellow? He eats my lunch, and then on top of that, wants me to let him get a double issue of rations ! I’ll see that you get a thundering big belly ache for this, my fine fellow.

"Now then, Sergeant," he continued, turning to Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek, "you take this man to Corporal Weiden-hofer and tell him to tie him up for two hours near the cookhouse door, until the rations of stew are issued this evening. He’s

to tie him up properly, so that he can only just stand on tiptoe, and so that he can see the stew cooking in the saucepan. And tell him to keep the blighter tied up while the stew rations are being issued in the cook house, so that it’ll make his mouth water like a hungry tike sniffing outside a butcher’s shop. And tell them to let someone else have his rations."

"Very good, sir. Come along, Baloun."

When they were on their way out, the lieutenant stopped them in the doorway, and looking at Baloun’s horrified countenance, he remarked gloatingly :

"You’ve done it this time, Baloun. Well, I hope you’ll enjoy your feed. And if you try any more of those tricks on me, I’ll have you court-martialled without any beating about the bush."

When Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek returned and announced that Baloun was already tied up, Lieutenant Lukash said :

"You know me well enough, Vanek, to be quite sure I don’t like doing that sort of thing. But I can’t help myself. I can’t have a low blighter like that around me. And it’ll have a good moral effect on the rank-and-file when they see Baloun tied up. These fellows who’re on draft and know they’re going to the front in a day or two think they can do what they damn well please."

Lieutenant Lukash looked very upset.

"Don’t you worry your head about that, sir," said Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek, trying to console him. "I’ve been on three different drafts and it was just six of one and half a dozen of the other, sir, not a scrap of difference between them. They all got cut to pieces with the whole battalion, and then what was left of us had to be reorganized. The worst of the lot was the ninth. Every man Jack of them was taken prisoner, N. C. O’s and company commander and all. And I’d have been taken as well, only I just happened to have gone to fetch the company’s regular issue of rum, and that’s what saved me."

"It strikes me," remarked Lieutenant Lukash, "that you’re a bit of a boozer. But don’t imagine that the next time we go into action you’ll just happen to have gone to fetch an issue of rum. As soon as I spotted your red nose, I had you sized up all right."

"That’s from the Carpathians, sir. When we got our rations

up there, they were always cold. The trenches were in the snow ; we wasn’t allowed to make fires, and rum was the only thing we had to keep us going. And if it hadn’t been for me, it would have been like in the other companies, where they hadn’t got any rum and the men were frozen. The rum gave all of us red noses. The only drawback was that orders came from the battalion that only men with red noses were to be sent out on patrol duty."

"Well, the winter’s practically over now," remarked the lieutenant meaningly.

"You can’t do without rum, sir, in the field, whatever season it is. It keeps you in good spirits, as you might say. When a man’s got a drop of rum inside him, he’s ready to go for anyone. Hallo, who’s that knocking at the door? Silly ass, can’t he read what it says on the door : ’Don’t knock. Come in’?"

Lieutenant Lukash turned on his chair toward the door, and he saw the door open slowly and softly. And just as slowly and softly the good soldier Schweik entered the office of draft No. 11.

Lieutenant Lukash closed his eyes at the sight of the good soldier Schweik, who gazed at him with much the same gratification as might have been displayed by the prodigal son when he saw his father killing the fatted calf.

"Beg to report, sir, I’m back again," announced Schweik from the doorway, with such frank informality that Lieutenant Lukash suddenly realized what had befallen him. Ever since Colonel Schroder had informed him that Schweik was being sent back to afflict him, Lieutenant Lukash had been hoping against hope that the evil hour might be indefinitely postponed. Every morning he said to himself: "He won’t be here to-day. He may have got into trouble again, so perhaps they’ll keep him there." But now Schweik had upset all these expectations by turning up in that bland and unassuming manner of his.

Schweik now gazed at Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek and turning to him, handed to him with a smile some papers which he took from the pocket of his greatcoat.

"Beg to report, Sergeant," he said, "I’ve got to hand you these papers that they signed in the regimental office. It’s about my pay and rations allowance."

Schweik’s demeanour in the office of draft No. 11 was as free-and-easy as if he and Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek were old cronies. The Quartermaster-sergeant, however, replied curtly:

"Put ’em down on the table."

"I think, Sergeant," said Lieutenant Lukash, with a sigh, "that you’d better leave me alone with Schweik."

Vanek went out and stood listening at the door to hear what these two would say to each other. At first he heard nothing, for Schweik and Lieutenant Lukash held their peace. For a long time they looked at each other and watched each other closely.

Lieutenant Lukash broke this painful silence by a remark, to which he endeavoured to impart a strong dose of irony:

"Well, I’m glad to see you again, Schweik. It’s very kind of you to look me up. Just fancy now, what a charming visitor !"

But his feelings got the better of him, and he gave vent to his bottled-up arrears of annoyance by banging his fist on the table, so that the ink pot gave a jerk and ink was spilled over the pay roll. He also jumped up, thrust his face close to Schweik and yelled at him :

"You bloody fool!"

Whereupon he began to stride up and down the narrow office, spitting whenever he came past Schweik.

"Beg to report, sir," said Schweik, while Lieutenant Lukash continued to pace up and down and kept furiously flinging into a corner crumpled scraps of paper which he snatched from the table each time he came near it, "I handed over that letter just as you told me. I found Mrs. Kâkonyi all right, and I don’t mind saying that she’s a fine figure of a woman, although when I saw her she was crying -"

Lieutenant Lukash sat down on the quartermaster-sergeant’s mattress and exclaimed hoarsely :

"When is this foolery going to stop, Schweik?"

Schweik continued, as if he had not heard the lieutenant’s exclamation :

"Well, then there was a little bit of unpleasantness, but I took all the blame for it. Of course, they wouldn’t believe that I’d been writing letters to the lady, so I thought I’d better swallow the letter at the cross-examination, so as to put them off the scent, like.

Then—how it happened I don’t know, unless it was just a stroke of bad luck—I got mixed up in a little bit of a shindy, nothing worth talking about, really. Anyhow, I managed to get out of that, and they admitted I wasn’t to blame, and sent me to the regimental orderly room and stopped all further inquiries into it. I waited in the regimental office for a few minutes, till the colonel arrived, and he gave me a bit of a wigging and said I was to report myself to you as company orderly, and told me I was to tell you to go to him at once about this here draft. That’s more than half an hour ago, but the colonel didn’t know they was going to take me into the regimental office again and that I’d have to hang about there for another quarter of an hour because I’ve got back pay coming to me for all this time, and I’d got to collect it from the regiment and not from the draft, because I was entered on the list as being under close arrest with the regiment. They’ve got everything here so muddled and mixed up that it’s enough to give you the staggers."

When Lieutenant Lukash heard that he ought to have been with Colonel Schroder half an hour earlier, he hastily put on his tunic and said :

"You’ve done me another good turn, Schweik."

He said it in such an utterly dejected and despairing tone that Schweik endeavoured to console him with a kindly word, which he addressed to Lieutenant Lukash as he was dashing out of the doorway:

"The colonel don’t mind waiting, sir ; he ain’t got anything to do, anyhow."

Shortly after the lieutenant had departed, Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek came in.

Schweik was sitting on a chair and throwing pieces of coal into the small iron stove, the flap of which was open. The stove smoked and stank, and Schweik continued his amusement, without perceiving the quartermaster-sergeant, who watched Schweik for a while, but then suddenly kicked the flap to, and told Schweik to clear out.

"Sorry, Sergeant," said Schweik with dignity, "but let me tell you that I can’t obey your order, much as I’d like to, because I’m under higher authority.

"You see, Sergeant, it’s like this," he added, with a touch of pride, "I’m company orderly. Colonel Schroder, he arranged for me to be attached to draft No. 11 with Lieutenant Lukash who I used to be batman to, but owing to my natural gumption, as you might say, I’ve been promoted to orderly. Me and the lieutenant are quite old pals. What was you in civil life, Sergeant?"

Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek was so taken by surprise when the good soldier Schweik addressed him in this free-and-easy, hail-fellow-well-met manner, that without standing on his dignity, as he so much liked to do when brought into contact with the rank-and-file, he replied as if he were Schweik’s subordinate :

"I kept a druggist’s shop at Kralup."

"I was apprenticed to a shop keeper once," said Schweik. "I worked for a chap named Kokoshka, in Prague. He was a rum cove, he was. One day I put a match, by mistake, to a barrel of benzine in the cellar, and it all caught light, and he chucked me out, and the Shopkeepers’ Association wouldn’t get me another job, so just through a barrel of benzine I couldn’t finish my apprenticeship. Do you make powders for cows?"

Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek shook his head.

"We used to make powders for cows and wrapped them up in pictures of saints. Our boss was as pious as they make ’em, and one day he read in a book that St. Peregrine was useful to cows when they’ve got spasms. So he had some pictures of St. Peregrine printed somewhere at Smichow and had them consecrated at the Emaus monastery for 200 gulden. And then we wrapped them up in the packets of our powders for cows. You mixed the powder in warm water, and made the cow drink it out of a bucket, while you recited a little prayer to St. Peregrine that had been made up by Mr. Tauchen, our shopman. You see, when these pictures of St. Peregrine had been printed, there had to be a little prayer of some sort on the other side. So in the evening old Kokoshka sent for Mr. Tauchen and told him he’d got to make up a prayer to go on the picture for the cows’ powders, and he’d got to have it ready when he came to the shop the next morning, so as it could be sent to the printers. It was wanted in a hurry because the cows was waiting for this little prayer. It was a case of take it or leave it, as you might say. If he made a good job of it, he’d

have a gulden in hard cash, and if he didn’t, he’d have a fortnight’s notice. Well, Mr. Tauchen sat up all night in a regular sweat, and when he came to open the shop in the morning he looked absolutely washed out, and he hadn’t written a line. In fact, he’d forgotten the name of the saint who made the powders do the cows good. And then our handy-man Ferdinand helped him out of the fix. He was a smart chap, he was. He just said, ’Let’s have a squint at it,’ and then Mr. Tauchen sent for some beer. But before I was back again with the beer, Ferdinand had finished writing half of the prayer. It went like this :

"Here I come from the skies so blue, And I bring good news to you. Whether you’re a cow, a calf or a bull, You can’t do without a packet-full Of Kokoshka’s powders if you’re queer; They’ll make your spasms disappear.

"Then when he’d had a drink and properly wetted his whistle, he finished it off in double-quick time, and very nice it was, too :

"This was invented by St. Peregrine, And a packet costs you only one-and-nine. St. Peregrine, keep our cattle from harm; They like your powders because they act like a charm. The grateful farmers all sing your praises, oh, St. Peregrine, protect our cows from woe.

"Afterward, when Mr. Kakoshka arrived, Mr. Tauchen went with him into the counting house, and when he came out again, he showed us two gulden instead of the one that he’d been promised, and he wanted to go halves with Ferdinand. But when Ferdinand saw the two gulden, filthy lucre, as they call it, got the better of him. He said he wanted the lot or nothing at all. So Mr. Tauchen gave him nothing at all, and kept the two gulden for himself, and he took me into the stock room and gave me a smack on the jaw and said I’d get a few dozen more like that if I ever told anyone it wasn’t him who made up the prayer and wrote it down, and if Ferdinand was to go and complain to the boss about it, I was to say that Ferdinand was a liar. I had to swear I’d do

what he said, in front of a keg of vinegar. But our handy-man he got his own back over those cow powders. We used to mix them in large crates in the loft, and so he got together a lot of mouse droppings and mixed them into the powders. Then he went and collected horse dung in the streets, dried it at home, powdered it up in a mortar and put that into the cow powders too, along with the picture of St. Peregrine. And that wasn’t enough for him. He went up into the loft where those crates were and took down his trousers and -"

The telephone rang. The quartermaster-sergeant clutched hastily at the receiver and then flung it down again, saying fretfully :

"I’ve got to go to the regimental office. I don’t like the look of that, at such short notice."

Schweik was alone again.

Presently the telephone rang again.

Schweik picked up the receiver.

"Vanek? He’s gone to the regimental office. Who’s here? The orderly of draft No. 11. Who’s that speaking? The orderly of draft No. 12? Pleased to know you. What’s my name? Schweik. And yours? Braun. You don’t happen to have a relative named Braun at Karlin, a hatter? You haven’t ; you don’t know him? I don’t know him, either, but I once rode past his shop in a tram and the name just caught my eye."

"Any news?"

"Not as far as I know."

"When are we off?"

"I never heard we were going off anywhere. Where to?"

"To the front, of course, you chump."

"That’s the first I’ve heard about it."

"You’re a fine orderly. Don’t you know that your lieutenant went to see the colonel?"

"Oh, yes, the colonel invited him."

"What difference does that make? Anyway, he went to see the colonel, and so did our lieutenant and the one from the 13th draft. I was just telephoning to his orderly. I don’t like the look of all this running about. And don’t you know whether the chaps in the band are packing up?"

"I don’t know damn-all about anything."

"Oh, come off it! You ain’t so soft as all that. Has your quartermaster-sergeant been given his orders yet? How many chaps have you got in your company?"

"I don’t know."

"You blithering idiot, do you think I’m going to bite your head off, or what?" (The man at the telephone could be heard saying to some third person : "Here, Franta, take the other receiver and you’ll hear what a bloody fool of an orderly the nth draft has got.") "Hallo, are you asleep, or what? Come along, answer up when a chap asks you a civil question, can’t you? You don’t know damn-all? Rats ! that be blowed for a yarn. Didn’t your quartermaster-sergeant say anything about drawing the issue of tinned stuff? What, you never talked to him about things like that? You blithering ass. You don’t care a damn one way or the other?" (There was a noise of laughter.) "You must have a tile loose somewhere. When you do get to know anything, telephone to the 12th draft, you perishing imbecile. Where are you from?"


"You ought to be a bit quicker in the uptake, then. Oh, yes, there’s something else. When did your quartermaster-sergeant go to the office?"

"He was called away a little while ago."

"Well, why couldn’t you have said so before? Ours went a little while ago, too. There’s something in the wind. Have you had a word with the service corps?"


"Holy Moses, and you say you’re from Prague? Why, you haven’t got the foggiest idea about anything. Where the hell do you get to all day?"

"I only arrived from the divisional court-martial an hour ago."

"Oh, now you’re talking. That accounts for it. I’ll come and look you up to-day. Ring off twice."

Schweik was about to light his pipe, when the telephone rang again.

"Oh, to hell with the bloody telephone !" thought Schweik to himself. "I can’t be bothered with it."

But the telephone went on ringing relentlessly, until at last

Schweik lost patience. He took the receiver and bellowed into the mouthpiece :

"Hallo, who’s speaking? This is Schweik, orderly of draft No. 11."

Schweik then heard the voice of Lieutenant Lukash replying :

"What are you all up to? Where’s Vanek? Call Vanek to the telephone immediately."

"Beg to report, sir, the telephone rang not long ago -"

"Listen here, Schweik. I’ve got no time for gossip with you. In the army, messages by telephone have got to be brief and to the point. And when you’re telephoning, drop all that beg-to-report stuff. Now I’m asking you whether you’ve got Vanek there. He’s to come to the telephone immediately."

"Beg to report, sir, I haven’t got him here. He was called away a little while ago to the regimental office, hardly a quarter of an hour ago."

"Look here, Schweik, I’ll settle up with you when I come back. Can’t you be brief? Now pay close attention to what I’m telling you. Do you understand clearly what I’m saying? Don’t make the excuse afterward that there was a buzzing noise in the telephone. Now then, immediately, as soon as you hang up the receiver -"

There was a pause. Then the telephone rang again. Schweik picked up the receiver and was swamped by a flood of abuse :

"You bloody, blithering, thickheaded, misbegotten booby, you infernal jackass, you lout, you skunk, you hooligan, what the hell are you up to? Why have you rung off?"

"Beg to report, sir, you said I was to hang up the receiver."

"I’ll be back home in an hour’s time, Schweik, and I’ll make it hot for you. Now pull yourself together, and go and fetch a sergeant—Fuchs, if you can find him—and tell him he’s to go at once with ten men to the regimental stores and fetch the issue of tinned rations. Now repeat what he’s got to do."

"He’s got to go with ten men to the regimental stores, and fetch the issue of tinned rations for the company."

"For once in a way you’ve stopped talking twaddle. Now I’m going to telephone to Vanek in the regimental office to go to the regimental stores and take charge there. If he comes back in the

meanwhile, he’s to leave everything and go to the regimental stores at the double. Now hang up the receiver."

For some time Schweik searched in vain not only for Sergeant Fuchs, but for all the other N. C. O.’s. They were in the cook house, where they were gnawing scraps of meat from bones and gloating over Baloun, who had been duly tied up according to instructions. One of the cooks brought him a chop and thrust it between his teeth. The bearded giant, not being able to use his hands, cautiously took the bone in his mouth, balancing it by means of his teeth and gums, while he gnawed the meat with the expression of a wild man of the woods.

"Which of you chaps is Sergeant Fuchs?" asked Schweik, when he had at last succeeded in running the N. C. O.’s to earth.

Sergeant Fuchs did not even deign to announce himself when he saw that it was only an ordinary private who was asking for him.

"Look here," said Schweik, "how much longer am I to go on asking? Where’s Sergeant Fuchs?"

Sergeant Fuchs came forward and, very much on his dignity, began to explain in the strongest of language how a sergeant ought to be addressed. Anyone in his squad who had the bloody cheek to talk to him as Schweik had done would get a biff in the jaw before he knew where -

"Here, steady on," said Schweik severely. "Just you pull yourself together without wasting any more time and take ten men at the double to the regimental stores. You’re wanted there to fetch the tinned rations."

Sergeant Fuchs was so astounded that all he could do was to splutter :


"Now then, none of your back answers," replied Schweik. "I’m orderly of the nth draft, and I’ve just been talking over the telephone with Lieutenant Lukash. And he said : ’With ten men at the double to the regimental stores.’ If you won’t go, Sergeant Fuchs, I’ll report the matter immediately. Lieutenant Lukash particularly asked for you to go. There’s nothing more to be said about it. Lieutenant Lukash said that messages by telephone have got to be brief and plain. ’When Sergeant Fuchs is told to go,’ he

said, ’why, he’s got to go. In the army, especially when a war’s on, all waste of time’s a crime. If this chap Sergeant Fuchs won’t go, when you tell him, just you telephone to me at once, and I’ll settle up with him. I’ll make mincemeat of Sergeant Fuchs,’ he said. My word, you don’t know what a terror Lieutenant Lukash is."

Schweik gazed triumphantly at the N. C. O.’s, who were taken aback, and also very much upset by his attitude. Sergeant Fuchs muttered something unintelligible and departed in a hurry, while Schweik called out to him :

"Can I telephone to Lieutenant Lukash that it’s all right?"

"I’ll be with ten men at the regimental stores in a jiffy," came the voice of the departing sergeant, whereupon Schweik, without another word, left the N. C. O.’s, who were as astounded as Sergeant Fuchs had been.

"Things are getting lively," said little Corporal Blazek. "We’ll be getting a move on soon."

When Schweik got back to the office of the nth draft, he again had no time to light his pipe, for once more the telephone began to ring. It was Lieutenant Lukash who spoke to him once more.

"Where have you been, Schweik? I telephoned twice before and couldn’t get any answer."

"I’ve done that little job, sir."

"Have those men gone yet?"

"Oh, yes, sir, they’ve gone all right, only I don’t know whether they’ll get there. Shall I go and have another look?"

"Did you find Sergeant Fuchs?"

"Yes, sir. First of all, he answered me back a bit offhand, like, but when I told him that telephone messages have got to be brief and -"

"Stop all that jabber, Schweik. Is Vanek back yet?"

"No, sir."

"Don’t yell into the telephone. Have you got any idea where that confounded Vanek is likely to be?"

"I’ve no idea where that confounded Vanek is likely to be, sir."

"He’s been in the regimental office, and then he went off somewhere. I shouldn’t be surprised if he’s in the canteen. Just go and

look for him there, Schweik, and tell him to go to the regimental stores immediately. And then there’s something else. Find Corporal Blazek immediately and tell him to untie that fellow Baloun at once. Then send Baloun to me. Hang up the receiver." Schweik discovered Corporal Blazek, personally witnessed the untying of Baloun, and then accompanied Baloun on his way, as this led also to the canteen, where he was to search for Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek. Baloun regarded Schweik as his deliverer and promised that he would go halves with him in every parcel of food which he received from home.

"It’s slaughtering time there now," said Baloun in tones of yearning. "Which do you like best, saveloys or liver sausage? Just you tell me, and I’ll write home this very evening. I should reckon my pig weighs round about three hundred pounds. He’s got a head like a bull dog, and that’s the best kind. Pigs like that never let you down. That’s a good breed, if you like. They can stand plenty of wear and tear. I bet the fat on that animal’s a good eight inches thick. When I was at home I used to make the liver sausage myself and I always had such a rare old feed of it that I was fit to bust. The pig I had last year weighed over three hundred pounds.

"Ah, that was a pig for you," he continued rapidly gripping Schweik’s hand as they reached the parting of the ways. "I brought him up on nothing but potatoes and I used to watch him growing visibly, as you might almost say. I put the ham into brine, and I tell you, a nice slice taken from the brine and fried with potato dumplings, soaked in pork dripping and some greens on top of it, that’s a fair treat. And after a good blow-out of that sort, you wash it down with a nice glass or two of beer. But the war’s put a stop to all that."

The bearded Baloun sighed deeply and departed to the colonel’s office, while Schweik made his way to the canteen through an old avenue of tall linden trees.

Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek was sitting at his ease in the canteen, and telling a staff sergeant-major how much he was able to make before the war by selling enamel and varnish. But the staff sergeant-major was no longer his usual self. That afternoon an estate owner from Pardubice, whose son was in camp, had

been there and had tipped him handsomely, besides standing treat in the town the whole afternoon. He was now very listless and woebegone, because he had lost his appetite. He was not even aware what they were talking about and did not take the slightest notice of the quartermaster-sergeant’s remarks on the subject of enamel and varnish. He was engrossed in his own meditations and was mumbling something about a local train which went from Trebon to Pelhrimov and back.

When Schweik entered, Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek was making another attempt to explain to the staff sergeant-major by means of statistics what profit could be made on one pound of varnish for building operations, whereupon the staff sergeant-major, entirely bemused, replied :

"He died on the way back, and all we found on him was some letters."

When he saw Schweik, he mixed him up with someone else, of whom he evidently did not approve, for he called him a bloody ventriloquist. Schweik, however, approached Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek, who was also somewhat fuddled, but very cheerful and friendly about it.

"You’ve got to go at once to the regimental stores, sir," announced Schweik. "Sergeant Fuchs is waiting there with ten men, and they’re going to draw tinned rations. You’ve got to go at the double. The lieutenant’s telephoned twice."

Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek burst out laughing :

"Not if I know it, old chap. Do you think I’m barmy, or what? There’s plenty of time, lad, plenty of time. The regimental stores won’t run away. When Lieutenant Lukash has handled as many drafts as what I have, then he’ll be able to talk, but he’ll drop all that stuff about doing things at the double. A lot of useless worry, that’s what it is. Why, many’s the time I’ve received orders in the regimental office that we was off the next day and I was to go and draw rations there and then. And what I did was to come here and have a quiet drink and just take things easy. The tinned rations won’t run away. I know more about regimental stores than what the lieutenant does, and when the officers have one of these here confabs with the colonel, I know the sort of stuff they talk. Why, for one thing, there ain’t any tinned rations in our regimen-

tal stores, and there never was. All the tinned rations we’ve got is inside the colonel’s noddle. Whenever we want tinned rations, we just get it in driblets from the brigade, or we borrow it from other regiments if we happen to be in touch with them. Why, there’s one regiment alone we owe more than 300 tins of rations to. Yes, sir! They can say what they like at their confab, but they’re not going to bounce me. And the store keeper himself’ll tell ’em they’re barmy when they go there for the doings. Why, there ain’t a single draft yet as had any tinned rations issued to it when it left for the front."

"That’s so, ain’t it, you old pie-face?" he added, turning to the staff sergeant-major, who, however, was either dropping off to sleep, or else was on the verge of a slight attack of delirium, for he replied :

"When she went for a walk, she always kept her umbrella open."

"The best thing you can do," continued Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek, "is not to worry about anything. Let ’em do what they damn well please. If they said in the regimental office that we’re leaving to-morrow, they don’t know what they’re talking about. How can we leave, if there ain’t any railway trucks? I was there when they was telephoning to the railway station. There ain’t a single spare truck. It’s just the same as it was with the last draft. We was hanging about in the railway station for two days, waiting for somebody to have pity on us and send us a train. And then we didn’t know where we was going to. The colonel himself didn’t know. After that, we had a ride all over Hungary and nobody ever knew whether we was going to Serbia or Russia. At every station they talked to the staff division direct. We was just a sort of flying squad, as you might say. No, take it easy, lad. Everything’ll come right in time, but there’s no need for any hurry. That’s the ticket."

"They’ve got some first-rate drink here to-day," continued Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek, ignoring the staff sergeant-major, who was stuttering to himself in German :

"You take it from me, I’ve had a pretty thin time so far. I can’t make it out."

"It ain’t likely I’m going to worry my head about the draft

leaving. Why, the first draft I was on, got everything ready without a hitch, in a couple of hours. Then the other drafts after that started getting ready two whole days beforehand. But Lieutenant Prenosil, he was our company commander and a regular sport, he said : ’Don’t you hurry yourselves, lads,’ and we got everything done like clockwork. We didn’t start packing till two hours before the train started. And if you take my advice you’ll just sit down -"

"It can’t be done," said the good soldier Schweik with a considerable effort. "I’ve got to get back to the office. Suppose someone was to telephone."

"All right, go if you want to, old chap, but it ain’t sporting of you and that’s a fact. A proper orderly has never got to be where he’s wanted. You’re too keen on rushing back to work. There’s nothing gets my goat more than an orderly with the wind up who wants to chuck his weight all over the bloody army."

But Schweik was already outside the door and was hurrying in the direction of his draft.

Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek was left by himself, for it could scarcely be said that the staff sergeant-major was a sociable companion. He was now entirely isolated from the rest of mankind and toying with his glass, he was stammering a great jumble of incoherent remarks in Czech and German :

"Many a time I have passed through that village and never even realized her existence. In six months my examinations will be over and I’ll have my degree. I’ve become a thorough wreck, thanks to you, Lucy. They’ve been published in volume form, and very attractive the bindings are, too—some of you may remember what I mean."

Thoroughly bored, the quartermaster-sergeant was drumming a tune with his fingers on the table, but his boredom did not last long, for the door opened and in came Jurajda, the cook from the officers’ mess. He glued himself to a chair.

"We’ve had orders to-day," he babbled, "to draw our rations of brandy for travelling. All the bottles wrapped in wickerwork were filled with rum, so we had to empty one of them. That was a treat for us. The men in the cook house did themselves well, and the colonel turned up too late to get" any. So now they’ve

cooked him an omelette. I tell you, we’re having a fine old time of it."

Jurajda lapsed into philosophic ponderings, as befitted his civilian occupation. Until the war broke out he was editing an occultist periodical and a series of books entitled Secrets of Life and Death. The colonel took a fancy to him as a kind of regimental freak, for there weren’t many officers’ messes that could boast of having as a cook a full-blown occultist, who, while scrutinizing the secrets of life and death, could dish up a first-rate roast sirloin or a tasty stew.

Jurajda, who could scarcely sit upright on the chair and reeked of a dozen or so tots of rum, now went on babbling at random :

"Yes," he said, "when there wasn’t enough to go round and the colonel only saw some fried potatoes, he fell into what we call the gaki state. Do you know what that is? It means the state of hungry spirits. So I said to him : ’Well, sir, have you got enough power to overcome the dispensation of fate that you didn’t get any fried kidneys? It has been predestined by karma, sir, that you are to get a chopped calves’ liver omelette for supper to-night.’ "

"My friend," he presently remarked to the quartermaster-sergeant, with an inadvertent gesture of the hand which upset all the glasses within reach of him on the table, "all phenomena, all shapes, all objects possess disembodied qualities. Shape is disembodiment and disembodiment is shape. There is no distinction between disembodiment and shape ; there is no distinction between shape and disembodiment. What is disembodiment, is shape, and what is shape, is disembodiment."

He then lapsed into silence, propping his head in his hand and contemplating the splashes and stains on the table. The staff sergeant-major went babbling on. Nobody could make head or tail of what he was saying :

"The corn vanished from the fields. Vanished. Such was his mood when he received her invitation and went to call on her. The Whitsun holidays come in the spring."

Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek was still drumming on the table. From time to time he took a pull at his glass and remembered that ten men with a sergeant were waiting for him at the

regimental stores. When he thought of this he smiled to himself and waved his hand airily.

When, at a late hour, he returned to the office of draft No. 11, he found Schweik at the telephone.

"Shape is disembodiment, and disembodiment is shape," he murmured, and crawled, fully dressed, on to his mattress, where he immediately fell fast asleep.

But Schweik continued to sit by the telephone, because two hours previously Lieutenant Lukash had telephoned that he was still conferring with the colonel, but he had forgotten to tell him that he need not wait at the telephone any longer. Then Sergeant Fuchs telephoned to say that he had been waiting with ten men for hours and hours, but the quartermaster-sergeant hadn’t turned up. Not only that, but the regimental stores were locked. At last he’d given it up as a lost job and the ten men, one by one, had gone back to their huts.

From time to time Schweik amused himself by taking the receiver and listening-in. The telephone was a new patent which had just been introduced into the army, and the advantage of it was that other people’s conversations could be heard quite distinctly all along the line.

The army service corps was slanging the artillery, the engineers were breathing fire and slaughter upon the postal department, the school of musketry was snarling at the machine-gun section.

And Schweik still sat at the telephone.

The deliberations with the colonel were prolonged still further. Colonel Schroder was expounding the latest theories of field service, with special reference to trench mortars. He talked on and on, about how two months earlier the front had been lower down and more to the east, about the importance of precise communication between the various units, about poison-gases, about anti-aircraft, about the rationing of troops in the trenches; and then he went on to discuss the conditions inside the army. He let himself go on the subject of the relationship between officers’ and rank-and-file, between rank-and-file and N. C. O.’s, and desertion to the enemy at the front, which led him to point out that fifty per cent, of the Czech troops were of doubtful loyalty. The ma-

jority of the officers were wondering when the silly old buffer was going to stop his chatter, but Colonel Schroder prated on and on and on about the new duties of the new drafts, about the regimental officers who had fallen, about zeppelins, about barbed wire entanglements, about the military oath.

While he was on the latter subject, Lieutenant Lukash remembered that the whole draft had taken the oath except Schweik, who had been absent from divisional headquarters. And suddenly he burst out laughing. It was a kind of hysterical laughter which had an infectious influence among several of the officers sitting near him, and as a result it attracted the attention of the colonel, who was just about to discuss the experience gained during the retreat of the German troops in the Ardennes. He got the whole subject mixed up and then remarked :

"Gentlemen, this is no laughing matter."

They then all proceeded to the officers’ club, because Colonel Schroder had rung up brigade headquarters on the telephone.

Schweik was dozing by the telephone when it started ringing and woke him up.

"Hallo," he heard, "regimental office speaking."

"Hallo," he answered, "this is draft No. 11."

"Don’t hang up," he heard a voice saying. "Take a pencil and take this message down."

"Draft No. 11."

This was followed by a number of sentences in a queer muddle, because drafts Nos. 12 and 13 chimed in and the message got completely lost in the medley of sounds. Schweik could not understand a word of it. But at last there was a slight lull and Schweik heard :

"Hallo, hallo ! Now read it over and don’t hang up."

"Read what over?"

"The message, of course, you jackass."

"What message?"

"Ye gods, are you deaf, or what? The message I just dictated to you, you bloody fool !"

"I couldn’t hear it. Somebody kept interrupting."

"You blithering idiot, do you think I’ve got nothing else to do but to listen to your drivel? Are you going to take the message

down or not? Have you got pencil and paper? What’s that? You haven’t, you thickheaded lout, you ! I’ve got to wait till you find some? Christ, what an army ! Now then, how much longer are you going to be? Oh, you’ve got everything ready, have you? So you’ve managed to pull yourself together at last. I suppose you had to change your uni form for this job. Now listen to me : Draft No. 11. Got that? Repeat it."

’"Draft No. 11."’

"Company commander. Got that? Repeat it."

"Zur Besprechung mor g en. Ready? Repeat it."

" ’Zur Besprechung morgen.’ "

"Um neun Uhr. Unterschrift. Do you know what Unter-schrift is, you chump? It means ’signature.’ Repeat it !"

" ’Um neun Uhr. Unterschrift. Do you know what Unterschrift is, you chump? It means "signature." ’ "

"You blithering idiot! Signature: Colonel Schroder, fathead. Got that? Repeat it !"

" ’Colonel Schroder, fathead.’ "

"All right, you swab. Who received the message?"


"Good God, who’s me?"

"Schweik. Anything else?"

"No, thank the Lord. Any news?"

"No. Still carrying on as before."

"I bet you’re glad, eh? I heard one of your chaps got tied up to-day."

"Only our lieutenant’s batman, who ate his grub. Do you know when we’re off?"

"The old man himself couldn’t tell you that, chum. Good-night. Have you got many fleas there?"

Schweik hung up the receiver and began to rouse Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek from his slumbers. The quartermaster-sergeant offered a stout resistance and when Schweik began to shake him, he hit him in the nose. Nevertheless Schweik managed to make the quartermaster-sergeant rub his eyes and inquire in alarm what had happened.

"Nothing so far," replied Schweik. "But I’d like to have a little confab with you. We’ve just got a telephone message to say that

Lieutenant Lukash has got to go at 9 o’clock to-morrow morning to the colonel for another Besprechung. I don’t know what to do about it. Am I to go and tell him now, or wait till the morning? I couldn’t make up my mind for a long time whether I ought to wake you up or not, when you was snoring so nicely, but at last I thought I’d better ask your advice and -"

"For God’s sake let me go to sleep," moaned Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek, with a tremendous yawn. "Go there in the morning, and don’t wake me up."

He turned over on the other side and fell fast asleep immediately.

Schweik went back to the telephone, sat down and began to doze at the table. The telephone bell woke him up.

"Hallo, is that Draft No. 11?"

"Yes, it is. Who’s speaking?"

"Draft No. 13. Hallo ! What do you make the time? I can’t get on to the exchange. It seems to me I ought to have been relieved before this."

"Our clock’s not going."

"Then you’re in the same fix as we are. Do you know when we’re starting? Haven’t you been speaking to the regimental office?"

"They’re like us. They don’t know damn-all."

"Now then, none of that bad language. Have you drawn your tinned rations? Our chaps went to fetch them, but they didn’t bring anything back. The regimental stores were closed."

"Our chaps never brought anything back, either."

"It’s a false alarm, if you ask me. Where do you think we’re going to?"


"I got an idea it’s Serbia. Well, we shall know the worst when we get to Budapest. If they shunt us off to the right, that means Serbia, and if it’s to the left, we’re bound for Russia. I hear our pay’s going to be raised. How many of you are there at the telephone? What, all by yourself? Give it a miss, then, and go to bed. Aha ! they’ve just come to relieve me. Well, pleasant dreams."

And Schweik once more dropped quietly off to sleep, without hanging up the receiver, so that nobody could disturb his slum-

hers, and the telephonist in the regimental office used much strong language at not being able to get through to draft No. 11 with a new message that by twelve the next morning the regimental officer was to be informed how many men had not yet been inoculated against typhus.

Meanwhile Lieutenant Lukash was still in the officers’ club with the M. O., one Schanzler, who, sitting astride a chair, kept hitting the floor with a billiard cue at regular intervals, and delivering himself of such remarks as these :

"The wounded, on whatever side they may be, must receive proper attention."

"The cost of the medicine and nursing which they receive must be defrayed by the other side."

"Wounded prisoners are to be sent back under protection and guarantee from the generals, or else exchanged. But they can then continue on active service."

While expounding these and similar principles relating to the treatment of the wounded in warfare, Dr. Schanzler had already smashed two billiard cues, and he was still in the thick of his recital.

Lieutenant Lukash drank the rest of his black coffee and went home, where he discovered Baloun busy frying some salami in a small pot over the lieutenant’s spirit stove.

"Sorry, sir," stammered Baloun. "Beg to report, sir, that -"

Lieutenant Lukash looked at him. At that moment he was like a big baby, and Lieutenant Lukash suddenly regretted having had him tied up because of his huge appetite.

"Carry on, Baloun," he said, as he unstrapped his sword. "Tomorrow I’ll get them to issue an extra bread ration to you."

He then sat down at the table, and under the influence of his mood at the moment, began to write a pathetic letter to his aunt :

Dear Aunt,

I have just received orders to be ready with my draft to leave for the front. It may be that this is the last letter you will ever receive from me, for the fighting is very severe and our losses are great. It is therefore difficult to conclude this letter by saying "au revoir." I think I ought rather to send you a last farewell.

"I’ll finish it off in the morning," decided Lieutenant Lukash, and went to bed.

When Baloun saw that the lieutenant was sound asleep, he again began to meddle and ferret about all over the place. He opened the officer’s trunk and was nibbling at a stick of chocolate, when the lieutenant stirred in his sleep. He started up in alarm and hastily put the chocolate back. For a while he lay low and then he stealthily peeped at what the lieutenant had been writing. He read it through and was deeply touched, especially by the reference to a last farewell. He lay down on his straw mattress by the doorway; amid thoughts of home and the slaughter of pigs there he dropped off into an uneasy sleep. He dreamt that he was haled before a court-martial for taking a piece of meat from the cook house. And then he saw himself hanging on one of the lime trees in the avenue which led through the camp at B ruck-on-the-Leitha.

When Schweik woke up with the awakening morning which arrived with the smell of coffee essence boiling in all the company cook houses, he mechanically hung up the receiver, as if he had just finished talking on the telephone, and started off on a short morning stroll through the office. He hummed a tune to himself with such gusto that Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek woke up and inquired what time it was.

"They sounded the reveille a little while ago."

"Then I won’t get up till I’ve had some coffee," decided the quartermaster-sergeant, who always had plenty of time for everything. "Besides, they’re sure to chivvy us about again on some stunt or other, that’ll only be a wash-out in the end, like they did yesterday with those tinned rations."

Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek yawned and asked whether he had been very talkative when he came home.

"Well, you was sort of flighty," said Schweik. "You kept on saying something about shapes, and that a shape ain’t a shape, and what ain’t a shape is a shape and this shape ain’t a shape. But you soon got over that and began to snore so loud that it sounded as if somebody was sawing a plank."

The telephone rang. The quartermaster-sergeant answered

it and the voice of Lieutenant Lukash became audible. He was asking what had happened about the tinned rations. Then the sound of expostulation was heard.

"They’re not, sir, I assure you," Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek shouted into the telephone. "How could they be? It’s all a lot of eyewash, sir. The commissariat’s responsible for it. There wouldn’t be any point in sending the men there, sir. I was going to telephone to you about it. Have I been in the canteen? Well, yes, sir, as a matter of fact, I did drop in there for a bit. No, sir, I’m quite sober. What’s Schweik doing? He’s here, sir. Shall I call him?"

"Schweik, you’re wanted on the telephone," said the quartermaster-sergeant, and added in low tones :

"If he asks you what I was like when I got home, tell him I was O. K."

Schweik at the telephone :

"Beg to report, sir, this is Schweik."

"Look here, Schweik, what’s all this about those tinned rations? Is it all right?"

"No, sir, there ain’t a trace of ’em."

"Now then, Schweik, I want you to report yourself to me every morning as long as we’re in camp. And you’ll keep near me until we start. What were you doing last night?"

"I was at the telephone all night, sir."

"Any news?"

"Yes, sir."

"Now, then, Schweik, don’t start talking twaddle. Did anyone report anything of any importance?"

"Yes, sir, but not till nine o’clock. And I didn’t want to disturb you, sir. Far from it."

"Well, for God’s sake, tell me what it was."

"A message, sir."

"Eh, what’s that?"

"I’ve got it written down, sir. ’Receive a message. Who’s there? Got it? Read it.’ Something like that, sir."

"Good God, Schweik, you’re a devil of a nuisance. Tell me what the message was, or I’ll give you a damned good hiding when I get at you. Now then, what is it?"

"Another Besprechung with the colonel, sir, this morning at nine o’clock. I was going to wake you up in the night, but then I changed my mind."

"I should think so, too. You’d better not have the cheek tc drag me out of bed when the morning’ll do. Another Besprechung! To hell with it ! Call Vanek to the telephone."

Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek at the telephone :

"Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek, sir."

"Vanek, find me another batman at once. That hound Baloun has eaten up all my chocolate. Are you to tie him up? No ; we’ll send him to the medical corps. A hefty chap like that ought to be all right for carrying wounded out of the front-line trenches. I’ll send him to you now. Get that settled in the regimental office and then go back to your company at once. Do you think we’re starting soon?"

"There’s no hurry, sir. When the ninth draft was supposed to start, they kept us messing about for four days. It was just the same with the eighth. With the tenth it was a bit better. In the morning we had our kit all ready, at twelve o’clock we got orders to start, and we were off in the evening. The only thing was that afterward they chased us all over Hungary and didn’t know which hole on which front we were to be stuffed into."

Since Lieutenant Lukash had been commanding the eleventh draft, he had spent much time in endeavouring to reconcile conflicting opinions. He therefore said :

"Yes, possibly, quite so, quite. So you don’t think we’re starting to-day? We’ve got a Besprechung with the colonel at nine o’clock. By the way, get me a list—Let’s see, now, a list of what? Oh, yes, a list of the N. C. O.’s with their length of service. Then the company rations. A list of men according to nationality? Yes, that as well. But before you do anything else, send me a new batman. What’s Ensign Pleschner doing to-day? Inspecting the men’s kit? Accounts? I’ll come and sign them after the rations have been served out. Don’t let anybody go into the town. What about the camp canteen? For an hour after rations. Call Schweik."

"Schweik, you’ll stay at the telephone until further notice."

"Beg to report, sir, I haven’t drunk any coffee yet."

"Then go and fetch your coffee and stay there in the office till I call you. Do you know what an orderly is?"

"A chap who runs about, sir."

"Well, you’ve got to stop where you are till I call you. Tell Vanek he’s got to find me another batman. Schweik—hallo! where are you?"

"Here, sir. They’ve just brought my coffee."


"I can hear, sir. My coffee’s quite cold."

"You’ve got a good idea of what a batman is. Just you look him over and then let me know what sort of a chap he is. Hang up the receiver."

As Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek sat sipping his black coffee, into which he had poured rum from a bottle labelled "Ink" (for the sake of caution), he looked at Schweik and said :

"This lieutenant of ours didn’t half yell into the telephone. I understood every word. You must know him pretty well by now, I should think."

"You bet I do," replied Schweik. "Why, we’re as thick as thieves. Oh, yes, we been through a lot together. They’ve tried over and over again to separate us, but we’ve always managed to get together again. He relies on me for every blessed thing. Sometimes I can’t help wondering why. You heard him just now telling me to remind you again to find him a new batman, and I’ve got to look him over and make a report on him. Lieutenant Lukash is particular about what sort of batman he gets."

In summoning another conference of the officers, Colonel Schroder was prompted by his great desire to hear himself orate. Besides this, some decision had to be reached on the subject of Marek, the volunteer officer who had refused to clean the latrines and who had therefore been sent by Colonel Schroder to a divisional court-martial.

The previous night, Marek, who had returned from the divisional court-martial, had made his appearance in the guard room, where he had been kept under close arrest. Together with him, an extremely muddled report from the divisional court-martial had reached the colonel’s office. The report pointed out

that this case could not be construed as mutiny, because the cleaning of latrines formed no part of a volunteer officer’s duties, but that the accused had been guilty of "infringement of subordination," which offence could be made good by distinguished conduct in the field. For these reasons the accused was sent back to his regiment and the proceedings in respect of infringement of discipline were to be suspended until the end of the war, but should be renewed on the next occasion of any charge that might be brought against the accused.

Then there was another matter. Marek, on his arrival at the guard room, was accompanied by a certain Teveles, a bogus sergeant. This gentleman had recently come under the notice of the regiment, to which he had been sent from the military hospital at Zagreb. He wore the large silver medal, the badges of a volunteer officer and three stars. He told some stirring tales about the doughty deeds of the 6th draft in Serbia, of which he claimed to be the sole survivor. As the result of inquiries, it was discovered that at the beginning of the war there had been a Teveles in the 6th draft, but that he was not entitled to claim the rank of a volunteer officer. The brigade to which the 6th draft had been attached after retiring from Belgrade on December 2, 1914, reported that there was no Teveles on the list of names recommended for, or decorated with, silver medals. Whether Private Teveles, however, had been promoted to sergeant during the Belgrade campaign could not be ascertained at all, because the whole of the 6th draft, officers included, had got lost at St. Sava’s Church in Belgrade. Before the court-martial Teveles had defended himself by the argument that he had been promised the large silver medal, and that he had therefore bought one from a Bosnian, while in hospital. As regards the volunteer officer’s badges, he had sewn them on while drunk, and he had continued to wear them because he was always drunk, owing to the weakening of his constitution by dysentery.

When the Besprechung started, before dealing with these two matters, Colonel Schroder emphasized the necessity for frequent deliberations before their impending departure. He had been informed by the brigade commander that they were awaiting divisional orders. The rank-and-file must be in fighting trim and

company commanders must carefully see to it that nobody was missing. He once more repeated everything that he had uttered the previous day. He again gave a survey of recent military events and insisted that nothing must be allowed to impair the army’s fighting spirit and eagerness for war.

On the table before him was fastened a map of the battle areas, with little flags on pins, but the little flags had been disarranged and the battle fronts reshuffled. Pins with the little flags attached to them were lying about under the table.

The whole of the war areas had been scandalously disarranged in the night by a tomcat, the pet of the military clerks in the regimental office. This animal, after having relieved himself all over the Austro-Hungarian areas, had made attempts to bury the resulting mess and had dragged the little flags from their places and smeared the mess over the positions ; whereupon he had wetted on the battle fronts and bridgeheads, and soiled all the army corps.

Now Colonel Schroder was very shortsighted. With bated breath the officers of the draft watched Colonel Schroder’s finger getting nearer and nearer to the small heaps.

"From here, gentlemen, to Sokol on the Bug—" began Colonel Schroder with a prophetic air, and thrust his forefinger by rote toward the Carpathians, the result being that he plunged it into one of the cat’s attempts to impart a plastic character to the map of the war areas.

"It looks, sir, as if a cat’s been—" remarked Captain Sagner, very courteously on behalf of all present.

Colonel Schroder rushed into the adjacent office, whence could thereupon be heard a terrible uproar and the grisly threats of the colonel that he’d have all their noses rubbed in it.

There was a brief cross-examination. It turned out that the cat had been brought into the office a fortnight previously by Zwiebelfisch, the youngest clerk. When this fact had been established, Zwiebelfisch gathered together all his goods and chattels and a senior clerk led him off to the guard room, where he was to remain until further orders from the colonel.

This practically concluded the conference. When the colonel, very red in the face, returned to the assembled officers, he forgot

that he still had to deliberate about the destiny of volunteer officer Marek and the bogus sergeant, Teveles.

He therefore said curtly :

"I should be glad if you would kindly remain in readiness, gentlemen, and await my further orders and instructions."

And so the result was that the volunteer officer and Teveles remained in the guard room, and when later they were joined by Zwiebelfisch they were able to play poker. After that they badgered the sentry in charge of them to catch the lice on their straw mattress. Later on, a Lance-corporal Peroutka of the 13th draft was added to their company. When on the previous day there had been a rumour in the camp that they were off to the front, he had got lost and was subsequently discovered by the patrol next morning at The White Rose in Bruck. His excuse was that before leaving he was anxious to visit the famous greenhouse of Count Harrach in Bruck, and on his return he had lost his way and, deadbeat, had only managed to discover The White Rose at the break of day. (Actually, he had spent the night with the barmaid of that hostelry.)

The situation became more and more perplexing. Were they leaving, or were they not? Schweik, sitting at the telephone in the office of the 11th draft, overheard the most varied opinions, some pessimistic and some optimistic. The 12th draft telephoned that somebody in their office had heard that they were going to wait till they had been trained in shooting at moving targets and that they would not leave until they had completed the usual course in musketry. This optimistic view was not shared by the 13th draft, which telephoned to say that Corporal Havlik had just come back from the town, where he had heard from a railwayman that the carriages were waiting in the station.

Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek snatched the receiver from Schweik’s hand and shouted excitedly that the railway blokes knew damn-all, and that he’d just been in the regimental office.

Schweik sat on at the telephone with a genuine attachment to his job, and in reply to all questions his answer was that he knew nothing definite. Then, when Lieutenant Lukash inquired :

"Any news at your end?"

Schweik replied in stereotyped terms :

"Nothing definite come through yet, sir."

"You jackass, hang up the receiver."

Then came a series of telephonic messages which Schweik received after lengthy misunderstandings. In particular, there was one which could not be dictated to him during the night when he had failed to hang up the receiver and was asleep. This referred to those who had been, or who had not been, inoculated.

Then there was a belated message about tinned rations, companies and regimental sections.

"Copy of brigade telephonic message No. 75692. Brigade order No. 122. When indenting for cookhouse stores the requisite commodities are to be enumerated in the following order : I. Meat, 2. Tinned goods, 3. Fresh vegetables, 4. Preserved vegetables, 5. Rice, 6. Macaroni, 7. Oatmeal and bran, 8. Potatoes; in place of the foregoing, 3. Preserved vegetables, 4. Fresh vegetables."

When Schweik read this out to the quartermaster-sergeant, the latter declared solemnly that he threw messages like that into the latrine.

"It’s only a stunt that some bloody fool on the staff has thought of, and then they send it out to every blessed division and brigade and regiment."

After that Schweik received another message which was dictated so rapidly that when he had taken it down it looked like something in cipher:

"Subsequently closer permitted however has been nevertheless or thus has been notwithstanding the same to be reported."

"That’s all a lot of useless bunk," said Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek, when Schweik, vastly astonished at what he had written, read it aloud three times in succession. "It’s all damn nonsense. Christ knows what they think they’re up to. Of course, it may be in cipher, but that’s not our job. Chuck it away."

"You’re about right, Sergeant," said Schweik. "If I was to report to the lieutenant that he’s got to ’subsequently closer permitted however has been nevertheless or thus has been notwithstanding the same to be reported,’ I don’t mind betting he wouldn’t like it.

"Some people are terribly touchy," continued Schweik, plunging into reminiscence again. "I remember once I was riding in a tram, and at one of the stopping places a chap named Novotny got in. As soon as I spotted him, I went over and joined him and started telling him we both came from the same town. But he started shouting he didn’t know me and told me to go away and not to bother him. So then I started explaining to him how when I was a little boy I used to visit their house with my mother, whose name was Antonia and my father’s name was Prokop, and he was an overseer on a farm. But even then he still made out he didn’t know me. So I started telling him some details, just to convince him, and told him how there were two chaps named Novotny in our town, Tonda and Josef. And Josef, so they told me, had shot his wife because she kept grumbling at him for going on the booze. And then he lifted his arm, and I dodged him, so that he smashed a large pane of glass in the tram, right close to the driver. So they ejected us from the tram and took us to the police station, and there it turned out that the reason he was so touchy was because his name wasn’t Novotny at all, but Dou-brava, and he’d come over from America to visit some relations."

The telephone interrupted his narrative and a hoarse voice from the machine-gun section again inquired whether they were leaving. The owner of the voice said that he’d heard there had been a Besprechung with the colonel that morning.

Then Cadet Biegler, the biggest jackass in the company, made his appearance in the doorway. He was extremely pale, and beckoned to Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek to follow him into the passage, where he had a long talk with him.

When Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek returned, he smiled contemptuously.

"He’s a bloody fool, he is," he said to Schweik. "We haven’t half got some rum specimens in this draft. He was at the Besprechung and at the end of it the lieutenant ordered all squad commanders to hold a rifle inspection and to make it a hot ’un. And now he comes and asks me if he ought to crime Zlabek for cleaning his rifle with paraffin."

Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek became quite heated about it.

"He comes and asks me about that sort of flapdoodle, when he knows we’re off to the front."

"Here," said Schweik suddenly, "what about that new batman you were told to get? Have you found one yet?"

"Talk sense," replied Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek. "All in good time. As a matter of fact I wouldn’t mind betting that the lieutenant’ll get used to Baloun. He’ll sneak a bit of grub from him every now and then, but he’ll drop all that when we get to the front. By that time neither of ’em’ll have anything to eat. If I say that Baloun’s got to stop, why, that’s all there is to it. That’s my job, and the lieutenant can’t interfere. There’s no hurry."

Quartermaster-sergeant Vanek lay down on his bed again.

At this juncture Lieutenant Lukash was in his den, studying a cipher message from the staff which had just been handed to him, together with instructions how to decode it and secret orders in cipher about the direction in which the draft was to proceed to the Galician frontier :



4432—1238—7217—3 5—8922—3 5=Komarom.


As he decoded this rigmarole, Lieutenant Lukash sighed and exclaimed :

"To hell with it all!"