The Good Soldier Svejk Chapter 9.

Schweik at the Detention Barracks.

The last resort of people who were unwilling to go to the front was the detention barracks. I knew a schoolmaster who was not anxious to use his mathematical knowledge to assist the artillery in its shooting operations, and so he stole a watch from a lieutenant so as to get into the detention barracks. He did so with complete deliberation. The war did not impress or attract him. He considered it stark lunacy to fire at the enemy, and with shrapnel and shells to slaughter unfortunate teachers of mathematics, just like himself, on the other side, and so he calmly stole the watch.

They first investigated his state of mind, and when he said he had wanted to enrich himself, they despatched him to the detention barracks. There were quite a lot of people who served their time there for theft or fraud. Idealists and non-idealists. People who looked upon the army as a source of revenue, all those various quartermaster-sergeants at the base and at the front who committed all kinds of frauds with rations and pay, and also petty thieves who were a thousand times more honest than the persons who sent them there. Then too, the detention barracks contained those soldiers who had committed various other offences of a purely military character, such as insubordination, attempted mutiny, desertion. A special branch comprised the political prisoners, eighty per cent, of whom were quite innocent and ninety-nine per cent, of whom were condemned.

There was a magnificent legal staff, a mechanism such as is possessed by every state before its political, economic and moral collapse.

Every military unit contained Austria’s hirelings who lodged information against the comrades who slept on the same mattresses with them and shared their bread with them on the march.

The police also supplied material to the detention barracks. The military censors of correspondence used to despatch there those who had written letters from the front to the ones whom they had left at home in distress. The gendarmes even handed over old retired farmers who sent letters to the front, and the court-martial rewarded them with twelve years’ imprisonment for their words of comfort and the descriptions of the misery at home.

From the Hradcany detention barracks there was also a road which led by way of Brevnov to the exercise ground at Motol. In front went a man escorted by soldiers, with gyves on his hands, and behind him a cart containing a coffin. And on the exercise-ground at Motol a curt order, "An! Feuer!"1 And in all the regiments and battalions they read in the regimental orders that another man had been shot for mutiny.

1"Take aim! Fire!"

In the detention barracks a trinity, comprising Staff-Warder Slavik, Captain Linhart and Sergeant-Maj or Repa, nicknamed "the hangman," were already carrying out their duties, and nobody knows how many they beat to death in solitary confinement. On receiving Schweik, Staff-Warder Slavik cast at him a glance of mute reproach, as much as to say :

"So your reputation’s damaged, is it? Is that why you’ve joined us? Well, my lad, we’ll make your stay here a happy one, the same as we do to all who fall into our hands."

And in order to lend emphasis to this figure of speech, he thrust a muscular and beefy fist under Schweik’s nose, saying :

"Sniff at that, you damned swab."

Schweik sniffed and remarked :

"I shouldn’t like a bash in the nose with that; it smells of graveyards."

This calm, thoughtful remark rather pleased the staff-warder.

"Ha," he said, prodding Schweik in the stomach, "stand up straight. What’s that you’ve got in your pockets? If it’s cigarettes, you can leave ’em here. And hand over your money so’s they can’t steal it. Is that all you’ve got? Now then, no nonsense. Don’t tell any lies or you’ll get it in the neck."

"Where are we to put him?" inquired Sergeant-Major Repa.

"We’ll shove him in Number 16," decided the staff-warder, "among the ones in their underclothes. Can’t you see that Captain Linhart’s marked his papers, Streng behiiten, beobachten?2 Oh, yes," he remarked solemnly to Schweik, "riffraff have got to be treated like riffraff. If anybody raises Cain, why, off he goes into solitary confinement and once he’s there we smash all his ribs and leave him till he pops off. We’re entitled to do that. What did we do with that butcher, Repa?"

"Oh, he gave us a lot of trouble, sir," replied Sergeant-Major Repa, dreamily. "He was a tough ’un and no mistake. I must have been trampling on him for more than five minutes before his ribs began to crack and blood came out of his mouth. And he lived for another ten days after that. Oh, he was a regular terror."

2"To be kept under strict watch and observation.

"So you see, you swab, how we manage things here when anyone starts any nonsense or tries to do a bunk," Staff-Warder Slavik concluded his pedagogical discourse. "Why, it’s practically suicide and that’s punished just the same here. And God help you, you scabby ape you, if you take it into your head to complain of anything at inspection time. When there’s an inspection on, and they ask you if there are any complaints, you’ve got to stand at attention, you stinking brute, salute and answer, ’I beg to report, sir, no complaints, and I’m quite satisfied.’ Now, you packet of muck, repeat what I said."

"Beg to report, sir, no complaints and I’m quite satisfied," repeated Schweik with such a charming expression on his face that the staff-warder was misled and took it for a sign of frankness and honesty.

"Now take everything off except your underclothes and go to Number 16," he said in quite civil tones, without adding such phrases as damned swab, packet of muck, or stinking brute, as he usually did.

In Number 16 Schweik encountered twenty men in their underclothing. They were the ones whose papers were marked: "Streng behuten, beobachten!", and who were now being looked after very carefully to prevent them from escaping.

If their underclothing had been clean and if there had been no bars on the windows, you might have supposed at a first glance that you were in the dressing room of some bathing establishment.

Sergeant-Major Repa handed Schweik over to the "cell-manager," a hairy fellow in an unbuttoned shirt. He inscribed Schweik’s name on a piece of paper hanging on the wall, and said to him :

"To-morrow there’s a show on. We’re going to be taken to chapel to hear a sermon. All of us chaps in underclothes, we have to stand just under the pulpit. It won’t half make you laugh."

As in all prisons and penitentiaries, the chapel was in high favour among the inmates of the detention barracks. They were not concerned about the possibility that the enforced attendance at chapel might bring them nearer to God, or that they might become better informed about morality. No such nonsense as that

entered their heads. What the divine service and the sermon did offer was a pleasant distraction from the boredom of the detention barracks. They were not concerned about being nearer to God, but about the hope of discovering the stump of a discarded cigar or cigarette on their way along the corridors and across the courtyard. God was thrust completely into the background by a small fag-end drifting about hopelessly in a spittoon or somewhere on the dusty floor. This tiny reeking object triumphed over God and the salvation of the soul.

And then too, the sermon itself, what a treat, what fun. Otto Katz, the chaplain, was such a jolly fellow. His sermons were so very attractive and droll, so refreshing amid the boredom of the detention barracks. He could prate so entertainingly about the infinite grace of God, and uplift the vile captives, the men without honour. He could hurl such delightful terms of abuse from the pulpit. He could bellow his "Ita missa est" so gorgeously from the altar, officiate with such utter originality, playing ducks and drakes with Holy Mass. When he was well in his cups, he could devise entirely new prayers, a liturgy of his own which had never existed before.

Oh, and it was too funny for words when he sometimes slipped and fell over with the chalice, the holy sacrament or the missal in his hand, whereupon he would loudly accuse the ministrant from the gang of convicts of having deliberately tripped him up, and would there and then hand out a dose of solitary confinement or a spell in irons. And the recipient thoroughly enjoyed it, for it was all part of the frolics in the prison chapel.

Otto, the most perfect of military chaplains, was a Jew. He had a very chequered past. He had studied in a business college, and there he acquired a familiarity with bills of exchange and the law appertaining to them which enabled him within a year to steer the firm of Katz & Company into such a glorious and successful bankruptcy that old Mr. Katz departed to North America, after arranging a settlement with his creditors, unbeknown to them and unbeknown also to his partner, who proceeded to the Argentine.

So when young Otto Katz had distinterestedly bestowed the firm of Katz & Company upon North and South America, he was

in the position of a man who has not where to lay his head. He therefore joined the army.

Before this, however, he did an exceedingly noble thing. He had himself baptized. He applied to Christ for help in his career. He applied to him absolutely confident that he was striking a business bargain with the Son of God. He successfully qualified for a commission, and Otto Katz, the new-fledged Christian, remained in the army. At first he thought he was going to make splendid progress, but one day he got drunk and took Holy Orders.

He never prepared his sermons, and everybody looked forward to hearing them. It was a solemn moment when the occupants of Number 16 were led in their underclothes into chapel. Some of them, upon whom fortune had smiled, were chewing the cigarette-ends which they had found on the way to chapel, because, being without pockets, they had nowhere to keep them. Around them stood the rest of the prisoners and they gazed with relish at the twenty men in underclothing beneath the pulpit, into which the chaplain now climbed, clanking his spurs.

"Habt Acht!"3he shouted, "let us pray, and now all together after me. And you at the back there, you hog, don’t blow your nose in your hand. You’re in the Temple of the Lord, and you’ll be for it, mark my words. You haven’t forgotten the Lord’s Prayer yet, have you, you bandits? Well, let’s have a shot at it. Ah, I knew it wouldn’t come off. Lord’s Prayer, indeed; two cuts from the joint with veg., have a regular blow-out, with a snooze to follow, pick your noses and be hanged to the Lord God, that’s more in your line, isn’t it?"

He stared down from the pulpit at the twenty bright angels in underclothing, who, like all the rest, were thoroughly enjoying themselves. At the back they were playing put and take.

"This is a bit of all right," whispered Schweik to his neighbour, who was suspected of having, for three crowns, chopped off all his comrade’s fingers with an axe, to get him out of the army.

"You wait a bit," was the answer. "He’s properly oiled again to-day. He’s going to jaw about the thorny path of sin." 3"Attention !"

True enough, the chaplain was in an excellent mood that day. Without knowing why he was doing it, he kept leaning over the side of the pulpit and was within an ace of losing his balance.

"I’m in favour of shooting the lot of you. You pack of rotters," he continued. "You won’t turn to Christ and you prefer to tread the thorny path of sin."

"I told you it was coming. He’s properly oiled," whispered Schweik’s neighbour gleefully.

"The thorny path of sin, you thick-headed louts, is the path of struggle against vice. You are prodigal sons, who prefer to loll about in solitary confinement than return to your Father. But fix your gaze further and upward unto the heights of heaven, and you will be victorious and will harbour peace in your souls, you lousy crew. I’d be glad if that man would stop snorting at the back there. He’s not a horse and he’s not in a stable—he’s in the Temple of the Lord. Let me draw your attention to that, my beloved hearers. Now then, where was I? Ja, ilber den Seelen-frieden, sehr gut.4 Bear in mind, you brutes, that you are human beings and that you must see through a glass darkly into distant space and know that all lasts here only for a time, but God abideth for evermore. Sehr gut, nicht wahr, meine Herren?5 I ought to pray for you day and night, asking merciful God, you brainless louts, to pour out His soul into your cold hearts and wash away your sins with His holy mercy, that you may be His for evermore and that he may love you always, you thugs. But that’s where you’re mistaken. I’m not going to lead you into paradise." The chaplain hiccoughed. "I won’t lift a finger for you," he continued obstinately. "I wouldn’t dream of such a thing, because you are incorrigible blackguards. The goodness of the Lord will not guide you upon your ways, the spirit of God’s love will not pervade you, because the Lord wouldn’t dream of worrying his head about such a gang of rotters. Do you hear me, you down there, yes, you in your underclothes?"

The twenty men in underclothes looked up and said, as with one voice :

"Beg to report, sir, we hear you."

4"Yes, about the peace of the soul, very good." 5"Very good, gentlemen, eh?"

"It’s not enough just to hear," the chaplain continued his sermon, "dark is the cloud of life in which the smile of God will not remove your woe, you brainless louts, for God’s goodness likewise has its limits, and you hog over there, don’t you belch, or I’ll have you put away till you’re black in the face. And you down there, don’t run away with the idea that you’re in a taproom. God is most merciful, but only to decent people and not to the scum of the earth who don’t follow His rules and regulations. That’s what I wanted to tell you. You don’t know how to say your prayers, and you think you go to chapel to have some fun, as if it was a music hall or a cinema. And I’m going to knock the idea out of your heads that I’m here to amuse you and give you a good time. I’ll shove each and every one of you into solitary confinement, that’s what I’ll do, you blackguards. Here am I wasting my time with you, and I can see it’s all no use. Why, if the field marshal himself was here, or the archbishop, you wouldn’t care a damn. You wouldn’t turn to God. All the same, one of these days you’ll remember me and then you’ll realize that I was trying to do you good."

Among the twenty in underclothes a sob was heard. It was Schweik who had burst into tears.

The chaplain looked down. There stood Schweik wiping his eyes with his fist. Around him were signs of gleeful appreciation.

The chaplain, pointing to Schweik, went on :

"Let each of you take an example from this man. What is he doing? He’s crying. Don’t cry, I tell you, don’t cry. You want to become a better man. That’s not such an easy job, my lad. You’re crying now, but when you get back to your cell, you’ll be just as big a blackguard as you were before. You’ll have to ponder a lot more on the infinite grace and mercy of God ; you’ll have to make a great effort before your sinful soul is likely to find the right path in this world upon which it should proceed. To-day with our own eyes we see a man here moved to tears in his desire for a change of heart, and what are the rest of you doing? Nothing at all. There’s a man chewing something as if his parents had brought him up to chew the cud and another fellow over there is searching his shirt for fleas, and in the Temple of the Lord, too. Can’t you do all your scratching at home? Must you

leave it till you’re at Divine Service, of all places? And you’re very slack about everything, too, Staff-Warder Slavik. You’re all soldiers and not a pack of damn silly civilians. So you ought to behave in a soldierly manner, even though you are in church. Damn it all, get busy seeking God, and look for fleas at home. That’s all I’ve got to say, you loafers, and I want you to behave properly at Mass, and not like the last time when some fellows at the back were swapping government linen for grub."

The chaplain descended from the pulpit and entered the sacristy, followed by the staff-warder. After a while the staff-warder made his appearance, came straight up to Schweik, removed him from the bevy of men in underclothes and led him away into the sacristy.

The chaplain was sitting very much at his ease on a table, rolling a cigarette.

When Schweik entered, he said :

"Yes, you’re the man I want. I’ve been thinking it over and I rather fancy I’ve seen through you, my lad. Do you get me? That’s the first time anyone’s ever shed tears here as long as I’ve been in this church."

He jumped down from the table and shaking Schweik by the shoulder, he shouted beneath a large, dismal picture of St. Francis of Sales :

"Now then, you blackguard, own up that you were only shamming."

And the effigy of St. Francis of Sales gazed interrogatively at Schweik. On the other side, from another picture, another martyr, whose posterior was just being sawn through by Roman soldiers, gazed distractedly at him.

"Beg to report, sir," said Schweik with great solemnity, staking everything on one card, "that I confess to God Almighty and to you, Reverend Father, that I was shamming. I saw that what your sermon needed was the reformed sinner whom you was vainly seeking. So I really wanted to do you a good turn and let you see there’s still a few honest people left, besides having a bit of a lark to cheer myself up."

The chaplain looked searchingly at Schweik’s artless countenance. A sunbeam frisked across the dismal picture of St. Fran-

cis of Sales and imparted a touch of warmth to the distracted martyr on the wall opposite.

"Here, I’m beginning to like you," said the chaplain, returning to his seat on the table, "what regiment do you belong to?" He began to hiccough.

"Beg to report, sir, I belong to the 91st regiment and yet I don’t, if you follow me. To tell the honest truth, sir, I don’t properly know how I stand."

"And what are you here for?" inquired the chaplain, continuing to hiccough.

From the chapel could be heard the strains of a harmonium which took the place of an organ. The musician, a teacher . imprisoned for desertion, was making the harmonium wail the most mournful hymn tunes. These strains blended with the hiccoughing of the chaplain to form a new Doric mode.

"Beg to report, sir, I really don’t know why I’m here and why I don’t complain about it. It’s just my bad luck. I always look at everything in a good light, and then I always get the worst of it, like that martyr there in the picture."

The chaplain looked at the picture, smiled and said :

"Yes, I really like you. I must ask the Provost Marshal about you, but I can’t stop here talking any longer now. I’ve got to get that Holy Mass off my chest. Kehrt euchf!6 Dismiss !"

When Schweik was back again among his fellow-worshippers in underclothes beneath the pulpit, they asked him what the chaplain had wanted him in the sacristy for, whereupon he replied very crisply and briefly :

"He’s tight."

The chaplain’s new performance, the Holy Mass, was followed by all with great attention and unconcealed approval. There was one man beneath the pulpit who laid a wager that the monstrance would fall out of the chaplain’s hand. He wagered all his bread rations against two punches in the eye and he won his bet.

What filled the minds of all in chapel at the sight of the chaplain’s ceremonials was not the mysticism of believers or the piety of the faithful. It was the same feeling that we have in a theatre

6"About turn!"

when we are about to see a new play, the plot of which we do not know. Complications ensue and we eagerly wait to see how they will be disentangled.

With aesthetic gusto the congregation feasted their eyes upon the vestments which the chaplain had donned inside out and with a fervid appreciation they watched everything that was being done at the altar.

The red-haired ministrant, a deserter from the 28th regiment and a specialist in petty theft, was making an honest endeavour to extract from his memory the whole routine and technique of the Holy Mass. He acted not only as ministrant, but also as prompter to the chaplain, who with absolute aplomb mixed up whole sentences and blundered into the service for Advent, which, to everybody’s delight, he began to sing. As he had no voice and no musical ear, the roof of the chapel began to re√ęcho with a squealing and grunting like a pigsty.

"He’s well oiled to-day," those in front of the altar were saying with complete satisfaction and relish. "He isn’t half canned. He’s been out on the booze with the girls and no mistake."

And now for about the third time the chaplain could be heard chanting "Ita missa est" from the altar, like the war cry of Red Indians. It made the windows rattle. He then looked into the chalice once more to see whether any wine was left, whereupon with a gesture of annoyance he turned to his hearers :

"Well, now you can go home, you blackguards, that’s the lot. I have noticed that you do not show the sort of piety you should, when you’re in church before the countenance of the Holy of Holies, you worthless loafers. Face to face with God Almighty, you make no bones about laughing, coughing and sniggering, shuffling with your feet, even in my presence, although I here represent the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ and God the Father, you thickheaded louts. If that occurs again, I’ll make things as hot for you as you deserve, and you’ll discover that the hell I preached to you about not so long ago isn’t the only one, but that there’s a hell upon earth, and even if you save yourselves from the first one, I’ll see you aren’t saved from the other. Abtreten!"7

’"Dismiss !"

The chaplain departed to the sacristy, changed his clothes, poured some sacramental wine from a demijohn into a tankard, drank it up, and with the help of the red-headed ministrant mounted his horse which was tied up in the courtyard. But then he suddenly remembered Schweik, dismounted and went to the provost marshal’s office.

Bernis, the provost marshal, was a man about town, an accomplished dancer and a thorough-paced bounder. His work bored him terribly. He was always losing documents containing particulars of charges, and so he had to invent new ones. He tried deserters for theft and thieves for desertion. He devised the most varied forms of hocus-pocus to convict men of crimes they had never dreamt of. He trumped up cases of lese majesty, and the imaginary incriminating evidence which he thus produced, he always assigned to somebody, the charge or evidence against whom had got lost in the inextricable muddle of official papers.

"Hallo," said the chaplain, shaking hands, "how goes it?"

"Rotten," replied Bernis, "they’ve got my papers into a mess and now it’s the devil’s own job to make head or tail of them. Yesterday I sent upstairs all the evidence against some chap who was charged with mutiny, and now they’ve sent it back because, according to them, he’s not charged with mutiny, but with pinching jam."

Bernis spat with disgust.

"What about a game of cards?" asked the chaplain.

"I’ve blued every bean I had at cards. A day or two ago we were playing poker with that bald-headed colonel and he cleaned me right out. On the other hand, I’ve picked up a tasty bit of skirt. And what about your Holiness?"

"I need an orderly," said the chaplain. "I used to have an old chap, an accountant, but he was a smug brute. He kept on snuffling and praying to God to spare him, so I sent him off to the front. I’ve since heard that his particular crowd got cut to pieces. After that they sent me another fellow, but all he did was to go out boozing and charging it up on my account. He was a decent sort but he had sweaty feet, so I shoved him on a draft, too. Now to-day I’ve just discovered a chap who started crying just to rag me. That’s the kind of fellow I want. His name’s Schweik and

he’s in Number 16. I’d like to know what he’s there for and whether I couldn’t wangle him out of it."

Bernis started looking for the documents relating to Schweik but, as usual, he could find nothing.

"Captain Linhart’s got it, I expect," he said, after a long search. "God knows how all these papers manage to get lost here. I must have sent them to Linhart. I’ll telephone to him at once. Hallo, Lieutenant Bernis speaking, sir. I say, do you happen to have any documents relating to a man called Schweik? . . . Schweik’s papers must be in my hands? That’s odd. ... I took them over from you? Most odd. He’s in Number 16... . I know, sir, I’ve got the records of Number 16. But I thought that Schweik’s papers might be kicking around somewhere in your office. . . . Pardon? I’m not to talk to you like that? Things don’t kick around in your office? Hallo, hallo . . ."

Bernis sat down at his table and heatedly expressed his disapproval of the careless way in which investigations were carried out. He and Captain Linhart had been on bad terms for some time past, and in this they had been thoroughly consistent. If Bernis received a file belonging to Linhart, he stowed it away, the result being that nobody could ever get to the bottom of anything. Linhart did the same with the files belonging to Bernis. Also, they lost each other’s enclosures.8

(Schweik’s documents were found among the court-martial records only after the end of the war. They had been placed in a file relating to someone named Josef Koudela. On the envelope was a small cross and beneath it the remark "Settled," together with the date. )’

"Well, Schweik’s file has got lost," said Bernis. "I’ll have him sent for, and if he doesn’t own up to anything, I’ll let him go and arrange for him to be transferred to your care. Then you can settle his hash when he’s joined his unit."

After the chaplain had gone, Bernis had Schweik brought in, but left him standing by the door, because he had just received a telephone message from police headquarters that the receipt of

8Thirty per cent, of the prisoners in the detention barracks remained there throughout the war without having their cases even heard. —Author.

requisite material for charge No. 7267, concerning Private Maixner, had been acknowledged in Office No. 1 under Captain Linhart’s signature.

Meanwhile, Schweik inspected the provost-marshal’s office.

The impression which it produced could scarcely be called a favourable one, especially with regard to the photographs on the walls. They were photographs of the various executions carried out by the army in Galicia and Serbia. Artistic photographs of cottages which had been burned down and of trees, the branches of which were burdened with hanging bodies. There was one particularly fine photograph from Serbia showing a whole family which had been hanged. A small boy with his father and mother. Two soldiers with bayonets were guarding the tree on which the execution had been carried out, and an officer was standing victoriously in the foreground smoking a cigarette. On the other side of the picture, in the background, could be seen a field kitchen at work.

"Well, what’s the trouble with you, Schweik?" asked Bernis, putting the slip of paper with the telephone message away into a file, "what have you been up to? Would you like to admit your guilt, or wait until the charge is brought against you? We can’t go on for ever like this. Don’t imagine you’re going to be tried in a law court by a lot of damn fool civilians. A court-martial is wha’t you’ll be up against—a k. u. k. Militargericht.9 The only way you can possibly save yourself from a severe but just sentence is to admit your guilt."

Bernis adopted a peculiar method when he had lost the charge papers against the accused. He considered himself so perspicacious that, although he was not in possession of the written evidence against a man and, indeed, even if he did not know what he was charged with, he could tell why he had been brought to the detention barracks, merely by observing his demeanour. His perspicacity and knowledge of men were so great that on one occasion a gypsy, who had been sent from his regiment to the detention barracks for stealing shirts, was charged by him with political offences, to wit, he had discussed with some soldiers in a taproom somewhere or other the establishment of an inde-9"Imperial and Royal Court-martial."

pendent national state, composed of the territories of the crowns of Bohemia and Slovakia, with a Slav king to rule over them.

"We have documents," he said to the unfortunate gypsy. "The only thing left for you to do is to admit your guilt, to tell us where you said it and to what regiment the soldiers belonged who heard you and when it was."

The unfortunate gypsy invented date, place and the regiment of his alleged audience.

"So you won’t admit anything?" said Bernis, when Schweik remained as silent as the grave. "You won’t say why you’re here? You might at least tell me before I tell you. Once more I urge you to admit your guilt. It’ll be better for you because it’ll make the proceedings easier and you’ll get off with a lighter sentence."

"Beg to report, sir," said Schweik’s good-humoured voice, "I’ve been brought here as a foundling."

"How do you mean?"

"Beg to report, sir, I can explain it to you as easy as pie. In our street there’s a watch maker and he had a little boy of two. Well, one day this little boy went off for a walk by himself and got lost and a policeman found him sitting on the pavement. He took the little chap to the police station and there they locked him up. You see, though this little fellow was quite innocent, he got locked up all the same. And even if he’d been able to speak and he’d been asked why he was locked up, he wouldn’t have known. And I’m in the same boat as he was. I’m a foundling, too."

The provost-marshal’s keen glance scrutinized Schweik’s face and figure, but he was baffled by them. Such unconcern and innocence radiated from the personality standing before him that he began to pace furiously to and fro in his office, and if he had not promised the chaplain to send Schweik to him, Heaven alone knows how Schweik would have fared.

At last he came to a standstill by his table.

"Now just you listen," he said to Schweik, who was staring unconcernedly into vacancy. "If you cross my path again, I’ll give you something to remember me by. Take him away."

When Schweik had been taken back to Number 16, Bernis sent for Staff-Warder Slavik.

"Schweik is to be sent to Mr. Katz pending any further decision about him," he said curtly. "Just see that the discharge papers are made out and then have Schweik escorted to Mr. Katz by two men."

"Is he to be put in irons for the journey, sir?"

The provost-marshal banged his fist on the table.

"You’re a damned fool. Didn’t I tell you plainly to have the discharge papers made out?"

And all the bad temper which Bernis had been accumulating during the day as a result of his dealings with Captain Linhart and Schweik was now vented like a cataract upon the head of the staff-warder and concluded with the words :

"You’re the biggest bloody fool I’ve ever come across."

This upset the staff-warder and on his way back from the provost-marshal’s office, he relieved his feelings by kicking the prisoner on fatigue duty who was sweeping the passage.

As for Schweik, the staff-warder thought he might as well spend at least one night in the detention barracks and have a little more enjoyment, too.

The night spent in the detention barracks will always be one of Schweik’s fondest memories.

Next door to Number 16 was a cell for solitary confinement, a murky den from which issued, during that night, the wailing of a soldier who was locked up in it and whose ribs were being broken by Sergeant-Major Repa, at the orders of Staff-Warder Slavik, for some disciplinary offence.

When the wailing stopped, there could be heard in Number 16 the crunching noise made by the fleas as they were caught between the fingers of the prisoners.

Above the door in an aperture in the wall an oil lamp, provided with wire netting to protect it, gave a faint light and much smoke. The smell of the oil blended with the natural effluvia of unwashed bodies and with the stench from the bucket.

In the corridors could be heard the measured tread of the sentries. From time to time the aperture in the door opened and through the peep-hole the turnkey looked in.

At eight o’clock in the morning Schweik was ordered to go to the office.

"On the left-hand side of the door leading into the office there’s a spittoon and they throw fag-ends into it," one man informed Schweik. "And on the first floor you’ll pass another one. They don’t sweep the passages till nine, so you’re sure to find something."

But Schweik disappointed their hopes. He did not return to Number 16. The nineteen men in their underclothes wondered what could have happened to him and made all sorts of wild guesses.

A freckled soldier belonging to the defence corps whose imagination was extremely lively, declared that Schweik had tried to shoot an officer and that he was being taken off that day to the exercise ground at Motol for execution.