2.1

The Good Soldier Schweik

Jaroslav Hašek

“So they've killed Ferdinand,” said the charwoman to Mr. Schweik who, having left the army many years before, when a military medical board had declared him to be chronically feeble-minded, earned a livelihood by the sale of dogs—repulsive mongrel monstrosities for whom he forged pedigrees. Apart from this occupation, he was afflicted with rheumatism, and was just rubbing his knees.

“Which Ferdinand, Mrs. Müller?” asked Schweik, continuing to massage his knees. “I know two Ferdinands. One of them does jobs for Prusa the chemist, and one day he drank a bottle of hair oil by mistake; and then there's Ferdinand Kokoska who goes around collecting manure. They wouldn't be any great loss, either of 'em.”

“No, it's the Archduke Ferdinand, the one from Konopiste, you know, Mr. Schweik, the fat, pious one.”

“Good Lord!” exclaimed Schweik. “That's a fine thing. And where did this happen?”

“They shot him at Sarajevo with a revolver, you know. He was riding there with his Archduchess in a motor car.”

“Just fancy that now, Mrs. Müller, in a motor car. Ah, a gentleman like him can afford it and he never thinks how a ride in a motor car like that can end up badly. And at Sarajevo in the bargain, that's in Bosnia, Mrs. Müller. I expect the Turks did it. I reckon we never ought to have taken Bosnia and Herzegovina away from them. And there you are, Mrs. Müller. Now the Archduke's in a better land. Did he suffer long?”

“The Archduke was done for on the spot. You know, people didn't ought to mess about with revolvers. They're dangerous things, that they are. Not long ago there was another gentleman down our way larking about with a revolver and he shot a whole family as well as the house porter, who went to see who was shooting on the third floor.”

“There's some revolvers, Mrs. Müller, that won't go off, even if you tried till you was dotty. There's lots like that. But they're sure to have bought something better than that for the Archduke, and I wouldn't mind betting, Mrs. Müller, that the man who did it put on his best clothes for the job. You know, it wants a bit of doing to shoot an archduke; it's not like when a poacher shoots a gamekeeper. You have to find out how to get at him; you can't reach an important man like that if you're dressed just anyhow. You have to wear a top hat or else the police'd run you in before you knew where you were.”

-91-

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