"Lieutenant Gustl" from Plays and Stories, by Arthur Schnitzler Copyright 1982 by The Continuum Publishing Company - Reprinted with permission.
How much longer is this thing going to last? Let's see what time it is . . . perhaps I shouldn't look at my watch at a serious concert like this. But no one will see me. If anyone does, I'll know he's paying lust as little attention as I am. In that case I certainly won't be embarrassed. . . . Only quarter to ten? . . . I feel as though I'd been here for hours. I'm just not used to going to concerts. . . . What's that they're playing? I'll have a look at the program. . . . Yes that's what it is: an oratorio. Thought it was a mass. That sort of thing belongs in church. Besides, the advantage that church has is that you can leave whenever you want to.-1 wish I were sitting on the aisle! Steady, steady! Even oratorios end some time. Perhaps this one's very beautiful, and I'm just in the wrong mood. Well, why not? When I think that I came here for diversion . . . I should have given my ticket to Benedek. He likes this sort of thing. Plays violin. But in that case Kopetzky would have felt insulted. It was very nice of him; meant well, at least. He's a good fellow, Kopetzky! The only one I can really trust. . . . His sister is singing up there on the platform. There are at least a hundred women up there- all of them dressed in black. How am I to know which one is Kopetzky's sister? They give him a ticket because she was singing in the chorus…Why then, didn't Kopetzky go? They're singing rather nicely now. It's inspiring! Bravo! Bravo! . . . Yes, I'll applaud along with the rest of them. The fellow next to me is clapping as if he were crazy. Wonder if he really likes it as much as all that? - Pretty girl over there in the box! Is she looking at me or at the man with the blond beard? . . . Ah, here we have a solo! Who is it? ALTO: FRÄuLEIN WALKER, SOPRANO: FRÄULEIN MICHALEK . . . that one is probably the soprano . . I haven't been at the opera for an awfully long time. Opera always amuses me, even when it's dull. I could actually go again the day after tomorrow. They're playing Traviata. To think, day after tomorrow I might already be dead as a corpse! Oh, nonsense; I can't even believe that myself! Just wait, mister, you'll stop making remarks like that! I'll scrape the skin off the tip of your nose!
I wish I could see the girl in the box more clearly. I'd like to borrow an opera glass. But this fellow next to me would probably kill me if I broke in on his reveries. . . . Wonder in which section Kopetzky's sister is standing? Wonder if I'd recognize her? I've met her only two or three times, the last time at the Officer's Club. Wonder if they're all good girls, all hundred of them? Oh, Lord!
ASSISTED B~ THE SINGER'S CLUB-Singer's Club . . . that's funny! I'd always imagined that members of a Singer's Club would be something like Vienna chorus girls; that is, I actually knew all along that it wasn't the same thing! Sweet memories! That time at the Green Gate . . . What was her name? And then she once sent me a postcard from Belgrade . . . that's also a nice place! Well, Kopetzky's in luck, he's been sitting in some bar, smoking a good cigar!
Why's that fellow staring at me all the time? I suppose he notices how bored I am and that I don't belong here. . . . I'll have you know that if you keep on looking fresh like that I'll meet you in the lobby later and settle with you! He's looking the other way already! They're all so afraid of my eyes. . . . "You have the most beautiful eyes I've ever seen!" Steffi said that the other day.
Oh Steffi, Ste~, Steffi!-It's Stefli's fault that I'm sitting here listening to them wail at me for hours. Oh, these letters from Steffi postponing engagements-they're getting on my nerves! What fun this evening might have been! I'd love to read Steffi's letter again. I've got it right here. But if I take it out of my pocket, I'll annoy the fellow next to me-Well, I know what it says . . . she can't come because she has to have dinner with "him." . . . That was funny a week ago when she was at the Gartenbau Cafe' with him, and I was sitting opposite Kopetzky; she kept winking at me in the way we had arranged. He didn't notice a thing- why, it's amazing! He's probably a Jew. Sure, works in a bank. And his black mustache. . . . Supposed to be a lieutenant in the reserve as well! Well, he'd better not come to practice in our regiment! If they keep on commissioning so many Jews-then what's the point of all this anti-Semitism? The other day at the club, when the affair came up between the lawyer and the Mannheimers . . . they say the Mannheimers themselves are Jews, baptized, of course they don't look it- especially Mrs. Mannheimer. …blond, beautiful figure. . . It was a good party, all in all. Great food, excellent cigars. . . Well, the Jews are the ones with the money.
Bravo, bravo! Shouldn't it be over soon? Yes, the whole chorus is rising . . looks fine- imposing!- Organ too! I like the organ.
Ah! that sounds good! Fine! It's really true, I ought to go to concerts more often. . . . I'll tell Kopetzky how beautiful it was.
Wonder whether I'll meet him at the cafe today?-Oh Lord, I don't feel like going there; I was furious yesterday! Lost a hundred and sixty gulden in one round-how stupid! And who won all the money? Ballert. Ballert, who needed it least of all. . . . It's Ba!lert's fault that I had to go to this rotten concert. . . . Otherwise I might have played again today, and perhaps won back something. But I'm glad I gave myself my solemn word to stay away from cards for a whole month. . . . Mother’ll make a face again when she gets my letter! -Ah, she ought to go and see Uncle. He's loaded; a couple of hundred gulden never made any difference to him. If I could only get him to send me a regular allowance
But, no, I've got to beg for every penny. Then he always says that crops were poor last year! . . . Wonder whether I ought to spend a two weeks' vacation there again this summer? I'll be bored to death there. . . . If the . . . What was her name? . . . Funny, I can't ever remember a name! Oh, yes: Etelka! . . . Couldn't understand a word of German . . nor was it necessary. . . . I didn't need to say a thing! . . Yes, it ought to be all right, fourteen days of country air and fourteen nights with Etelka or someone else. . . But I ought to spend at least a week with Papa and Mama. She looked awful at Christmas. . Well, she'll have gotten over feeling insulted by now. If I were in her place I'd be happy that Papa's retired.-And Clara’ll find a husband. Uncle will contribute something. . . . Twenty-eight isn't so old .. I’m sure Steffi's no younger. . It's really remarkable: the fast girls stay young much longer. Maretti, who played in Sans Genie recently-she's thirty-seven, for sure, and looks . . . Well, I wouldn't have said no! Too bad she didn't ask me.
Getting hot! Not over yet? Ah, I'm looking forward to the fresh air outside. I'll take a little walk around the Ring. . . . Today: early to bed, so as to be fresh for tomorrow afternoon! Funny, how little I think of it; it means nothing to me! The first time it worried me a bit. Not that I was afraid, but I was nervous the night before. . . . Lieutenant Bisanz was a tough opponent.-And still, nothing happened to me! . . . It's already a year and a half since then! Time sure flies! Well, if Bisanz didn't hurt me, the lawyer certainly won't! Still, these inexperienced fencers are often the most dangerous ones. Doschintzky's told me that on one occasion a fellow who had never had a sword in his hand before almost killed him; and today Doschintzky is the fendng instructor of the militia.-Though I wonder whether he was as good then as he is now? . . . Most important of all: keep cool. I don't feel the least angry now-and yet what an insult-unbelievable! He'd probably not have done It if he hadn't been drinking champagne. . . . Such insolence! He's probably a Socialist. All these shysters are Socialists these days. They're a gang. . . . They'd like to do away with the whole army; but they never think of who would help them out if the Chinese ever invaded the country. Fools! Every now and then you have to make an example of one of them. I was quite right. I'm really glad that I didn't let him get away with that remark. I'm furious whenever I think of it! But I behaved superbly. The colonel said I did exactly the right thing. I'll get something out of this affair. I know some who would have let him get away with it. Muller certainly would have taken an "objective" view of it, or something. This being "objective" makes anyone look foolish. "Lieutenant"-just the way in which he said "Lieutenant" was annoying. "You will have to admit-" . . . -How did the thing start? How did I ever get into conversation with a Socialist?
As I recall it, the brunette I was taking to the buffet was with us, and then this young fellow who paints hunting scene- whatever is his name? . . . Good Lord, he's to blame for it all! He was talking about the maneuvers; and it was only then that the lawyer joined us and said something or other I didn't like- about playing at war- something like that-but I couldn't say anything just then.. . Yes, that's it. . . . And then they were talking about the military school. . . . Yes, that's the way it was. . . . And I was telling them about a patriotic rally. . . . And then that lawyer said not immediately, but it grew out of my talk about the rally-"Lieutenant, you'll admit, won't you, that not all your friends have gone into military service for the sole purpose of defending our Fatherland!" What nerve! How dare anyone say a thing like that to an officer! I wish I could remember exactly how I answered him- Oh, yes, something about "fools rushing in where angels fear to tread" . . . Yes, that was it. . . . And there was a fellow there who wanted to smooth over matters- an elderly man with a cold in the head -but I was too furious! The lawyer had said it in a way that meant me personally. The only thing he could have added was that they had expelled me from college, and for that reason I had to go into military service. . . . Those people don't understand our point of view. They're too dull-witted. . . . Not everyone can experience the thrill I did the first time I wore a uniform. . . Last year at the maneuvers-I would have given a great deal if it had suddenly been in earnest. . . . Mirovic told me he felt exactly the same way. And then when His Highness rode up at the front and the colonel addressed us only a cad wouldn't have felt proud. . . . And now a boor comes along who has been a penpusher all his life and has the gall to make a fresh remark.
Oh, just wait my dear. Unfit for battle- yes, that's what I'll make him!
Well, what's this? It ought to be over by now. . . . "Ye, his Angels, praise the Lord" -Surely, that's the final chorus. . Beautiful, there's no denying it, really beautiful! And here I've completely forgotten the girl in the box who was flirting with me before. . . . Where is she now? . . . Already gone. . . . That one over there seems rather nice. . . . Stupid of m~I left my opera glasses at home. Brunnthaler's smart, he always keeps his with the cashier at the cafe-you can't go wrong if you do that. I wish the cute little one over there would turn around. She sits there so properly. The one next to her is probably her mother. . . .1 wonder whether I ought to consider marriage seriously? Willy was no older than I when he took the leap. There's something to be said for always having a pretty little wife home at your disposal. . . Too bad that just today Steffi didn't have any time! If I only knew where she were. I'd sit down facing her again. That'd be a good one! If he'd ever catch me, he'd palm her off on me. When I think what Fliess's affair with that Winterfeld woman must cost him!-and even at that, she cheats on him right and left. One of these days the whole thing will end with a bang. . . . Bravo, bravo! Ah, it's over. . . . Oh, it feels good to get up and stretch. Well! How long is he going to take to put that opera glass into his pocket?
"Pardon me, won't you let me pass?" What a crowd! Better let the people go by. . . . Gorgeous person. . . . Wonder whether they're genuine diamonds? . . . That one over there's rather attractive. . . . The way she's giving me the eye! . . . Why, yes, my lady, I'd be glad to! . . . Oh, what a nose! -Jewess. . . . Another one. It's amazing, half of them are Jews. One can't even hear an oratorio unmolested these days.
Now let's get into line. Why is that idiot back of me pushing so? I'll teach him better manners. . . Oh, it's an elderly man!
Who's that bowing to me over there? . . . How do you do. Charmed! I haven't the slightest idea who he is. . . . I think I'll go right over to Leidinger's for a bite, or should I go to the Gartenbau? Maybe Steffi’ll be there after all. Why didn't she write and let me know where she's going with him? She probably didn't know herself. Actually terrible, this dependency. . . . Poor thing-So, here's the exit. . . . Oh! that one's pretty as a picture! All alone? She's smiling at me. There's an idea-I'll follow her! Now, down the steps. . . . Oh, a major-from the 95th-very nice, the way he returned my salute. I'm not the only officer here after all. . . . Where did the pretty girl go? . . There she is, standing by the banister. . . . Now to the wardrobe. . . . Better not lose her. . . . She's nabbed him already. What a brat! Having someone call for her, and then laughing over at me! They're all worthless. . . . Good Lord, what a mob there at the wardrobe. Better wait a little while. Why doesn't the idiot take my coat check?
"Here, Number two hundred and twenty-four! It's hanging there! What's the matter-are you blind? Hanging there! There! At last.
Thank you." That fatso there is taking up most of the ward-robe. . . . "If you please!"
What's the fellow saying?
"Just have a little patience."
I'll have to answer him in kind. "Why don't you allow some room?"
"You'll get there in time." What's he saying? Did he say that to me? That's rather strong! I won't swallow that. "Keep quiet!"
"What did you say?"
What a way to talk! That's the limit!
"Shut your mouth!" I shouldn't have said that. That was a bit rough. . . . Well, I've done it now.
"Exactly what did you mean by that?"
Now he's turning around. Why I know him! -Heavens, it's the baker, the one who always comes to the cafe'. . . . What's he doing here? He probably has a daughter or something in the chorus. Well, what's this? -What's he trying to do? It looks as though
Yes, great Scott, he has the hilt of my sword in his hand! What's the matter? Is the man crazy? . . . "You Sir! .
"You, Lieutenant, hush your mouth."
What's he saying? For Heaven's sake, I hope no one's heard it. No, he's talking very softly. . . . Well, why doesn't he let go of my sword? Great God! Now I've got to get tough. I can't budge his hand from the hilt. Let's not have a rumpus here! Isn't the major behind me? Can anyone notice that he's holding the hilt of my sword? Why, he's talking to me! What's he saying!
"Lieutenant, if you dare to make the slightest fuss, I'll pull your sword out of the sheath, break it in two, and send the pieces to your regimental commander. Do you understand me, you young fathead?"
What did he say? Am I dreaming? Is he really talking to me? How shall I answer him? But he's in earnest. He's really pulling the sword out. Great God! he's doing it! . . . I can feel it! He's already pulling it! What is he saying? For God's sake, no scandal!-What's he forever saying?
"But I have no desire to ruin your career. . . . So just be a good boy. . . . Don't be scared. Nobody's heard it. . . . Everything's all right. . . . And so that no one will think we've been fighting I'll act most friendly toward you. . . . I am honored, Sir Lieutenant. It has been a pleasure-a real pleasure."
Good God, did I dream that? . . . Did he really say that? . Where is he? . . . There he goes I must draw my sword and run him through- Heavens, I hope nobody heard it. . . . No, he talked very softly- right in my ear. Why don't I go after him and crack open his skull? . . . No, it can't be done. It can't be done. . . I should have done it at once. . . . Why didn't I do it immediately? . . . I couldn't. . . . He wouldn't let go the hilt, and he's ten times as strong as I am. . . . If I had said another word, he would actually have broken the sword in two. I ought to be glad that he spoke no louder. If anyone had heard it, I'd have had to shoot myself on the spot. . . . Perhaps it was only a dream. Why is that man by the pillar looking at me like that?-Maybe he heard? . . . I'll ask him . . . ask him?!-Am I crazy?-How do I look? Does anyone notice?-I must be pale as a sheet-Where's the swine? I've got to kill him! . . . He's gone. . . . The whole place is empty. . . . Where's my coat? . . . Why, I'm already wearing it. . . . I didn't even notice it. . . . Who helped me on with it? . . . Oh, that one there. I'll have to tip him. . . . So. But what's it all about? Did it really happen? Did anyone really talk to me like that? Did anyone really call me a fathead? And I didn't cut him to pieces on the spot? . . . But I couldn't. . . . He had a fist like iron. I just stood there as though I were nailed to the floor. I think I must have lost my senses. Otherwise, I would have used my other hand.. . . But then he would have drawn out my sword, and broken it, and everything would have been over. . . . Over and done with! And afterward, when he walked away, it was too late. . . . I couldn't have run my sword through him from the back.
What, am I already on the street? How did I ever get here?- It's so cool. . . . Oh, the wind feels fine! . . . Who's that over there? Why are they looking over at me? I wonder whether they didn't hear something. . . . No, no one could have heard it.
I'm sure of it-I looked around immediately! No one paid any attention to me. No one heard a thing. . . . But he said it anyhow. Even if nobody heard it, he certainly said it. I just stood there and took it as if someone had knocked me silly. . . . But I couldn't say a word-couldn't do a thing. All I did was stand there-hush, hush your mouth! . . . It's awful; it's unbearable; I must kill him on the spot, wherever I happen to meet him! . . . I let a swine like that get away with it! And he knows me.
Great Heavens, he knows me-knows who I am! . . . He can tell everybody just exactly what he said to me! . . . No, he wouldn't do that. Otherwise, he wouldn't have talked so quietly. . . . He just wanted me to hear it alone! . . . But how do I know that he
won't repeat it today or tomorrow, to his wife, to his daughter, to his friends in the cafe-for God's sake, I'll see him again tomorrow. As soon as I step into the cafe tomorrow, I'll see him sitting there as he does every day, playing Tarok with Schlesinger and the paper~flower merchant. No, that can't happen. I won't allow it to. The moment I see him I'll run him through. . . No, I can't do that. . . . I should have done it right then and there!
If only I could have! I'll go to the colonel and tell him about the whole affair. . . . Yes, right to the colonel. . . The colonel is always friendly-and I'll say to him-Colonel, I wish to report, Sir. He grasped the hilt of my sword and wouldn't let go of it; it was just as though I were completely unarmed. . . What will the colonel say?- What will he say? There's lust one answer: dishonorable discharge! . . Are those one-year volunteers over there? Disgusting. At night they look like officers. . . Yes, they're saluting!-If they knew-if they only knew! . . . There's the Hochleitner Cafe. Probably a couple of officers in my company are there now.. . . Perhaps one or more whom I know.. . . Wonder if it wouldn't be best to tell the first one I meet all about it-but just as if it had happened to someone else? . . . I'm already going a bit crazy. . . . Where the devil am I walking? What am I doing out here in the street?-But where should I go? Wasn't I going to the Leidinger Cafe? Haha! If I were to sit down in public, I'm sure everyone would see what had happened to me. . . . Well, some-thing must happen.. . . But what? . . . Nothing, nothing at all-no one heard it. No one knows a thing. At least for the time being.
Perhaps I ought to visit him at his home and beg him to swear to me that he'll never tell a soul.-Ah, better to put a bullet through my head at once. That would be the smartest thing to do. The smartest? The smartest?- there's lust nothing else left for me-nothing. If I were to ask the colonel or Kopetzky, or Blany, or Friedmair:-they'd all tell me the same thing. How would it be if I were to talk it over with Kopetzky? Yes, that seems the most sensible thing to do. Not to mention because of tomorrow-tomorrow-yes, that's right, tomorrow-at four o'clock, in the armory, I'm to fight a duel. But I can't do it, I'm no longer qualified for dueling. Nonsense, nonsense, not a soul knows it, not a soul!-There are hundreds of people walking around to whom worse things have happened. …What about all those stories I've heard about Deckener-how he and Rederow fought with pistols… And the dueling committee decided that the duel could take place at that. . . But what would the committee decide about me?- Fathead, fathead, and I just stood there and took it-! Great heavens, it makes no difference whether anyone knows it or not! The main thing is:I know he said it! I feel as though I'm not the same man I was an hour ago know that I'm not qualified for dueling, and that I must shoot myself. I wouldn't have another calm moment in my life. I'd always be afraid that someone might find out about it in some way or another, and that some time someone might tell me to my face what happened this evening!-What a happy man I was an hour ago! . . . Just because Kopetzky gave me a ticket, and just because Steffi canceled her date- destiny hangs on things like that. . . . This afternoon, all was sailing smoothly, and now I am a lost man about to shoot himself. . . . Why am I running this way? No one is chasing me. What's the time? One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven.
Eleven, Eleven. . . . I ought to go and get something to eat.
After all, I've got to go somewhere. I might go and sit down in some little restaurant where no one would know me.-At any rate, a man must eat even though he kill himself immediately afterward. Haha! Death is no child's play. . . . Who said that recently?-It makes no difference.
I wonder who'll be most upset, . . . Mama or Steffi? . . . Stefti, Great God, Steffi! . . . She won't allow anyone to notice how she feels. Otherwise "he" will throw her out. . . . Poor little thing!-At my regiment. . . . No one would have the slightest idea why I did it. They'd all wrack their brains. . . . Why did Gustl commit suicide? But no one will guess that I had to shoot myself because a miserable baker, a low person who just happened to have a strong fist . . . It's too silly-too silly for words!-For that reason, a fellow like myself, young and fit. . . . Well, afterward they're all sure to say he didn't have to commit suicide for a silly reason like that, what a pity! But if I were to ask anyone right now, they'd all give me the same answer. . . . And if I were to ask myself. . . . Oh, the devil, we're absolutely helpless against civilians. People think that we're better off just because we carry swords, and if one of us ever makes use of a weapon, the story goes around that we're all born murderers. The paper will carry a story: "Young Officer's Suicide" . . . How do they always put it? "Motive Concealed" . . Haha! . . . "Mourning at his Coffin. . . . -But it's true. I feel as if I were forever telling myself a story. . . It's true. . . . I must commit suicide. There's nothing else left to do-I can't allow Kopetzky and Blany to come tomorrow morning and say to me: Sorry, we can't be your seconds. I'd be a cad if I expected them to . . . what kind of guy am I, standing quietly by and letting myself be called a fathead. . . Tomorrow everyone will know it. Fancy myself believing for a moment that a person like that won't repeat it everywhere. . . . Why, his wife knows it already! Tomorrow everyone in the cafe' will know It. All the waiters will know it. Schlesinger will know it-so will the cashier girl- And even if he planned not to tell anybody, he'll certainly tell them the day after tomorrow. . . . And if not then, in a week from now. . . . And even if he had a stroke tonight, I'd know it. . . . I'd know it. And I could no longer wear a cape and carry a sword if such a disgrace were on me! . . . So, I've got to do it-I've got to do it-There's nothing to it.-Tomorrow afternoon the lawyer might lust as well run his sword through me.
Things like this have happened before. . . . And Bauct, poor fellow, got an inflammation of the brain and died three days later.
And Brenitsch fell off his horse and broke his neck.. . . And finally, there's nothing else to do, not for me anyhow, certainly not for me!-There are men who would take it more lightly. But God, what sort of men are they! . . . a butcher slapped Ringeimer's face when he caught him with his wife, whereupon Ringeimer took his leave and is now somewhere out in the country, married. . . . There are women, I suppose, who'll marry people like that! . . . On my word, I'd never shake hands with him if he came to Vienna! . . . Well, you've heard it, Gustl:-life is over for you~finished, once and for all. Period! I know it now, it's a simple story. . . . Well! I'm actually totally calm. . . . I've always known it: if the occasion were ever to arise, I'd be calm, completely calm. . . . But I would never have believed that it would happen like this. . . . -That I'd have to kill myself just because a . . . Perhaps I didn't understand him correctly after all. . . . He was talking in an altogether different tone at the end. . . . I was simply a little out of my mind on account of the singing and the heat. . . . Perhaps I was momentarily demented, and it's all not true. . . . Not true, haha! Not true!-l can still hear it. . . . It's still ringing in my ears, and I can still feel in my fingers how I tried to move his hand from the hilt of my sword. He's a husky brute. . . . I'm no weakling myself. Franziski is the only man in the regiment who's stronger than I.
Already at the Aspern bridge? . . . How far am 1 still going to run? If I keep on this way I'll be at Kagran by midnight.
Haha! . . . Good lord, how happy we were last September when we marched into Kagran. Only two more hours to Vienna! . . . I was dead tired when we got there. . . .1 slept like a log all afternoon, and by evening we were already at Ronacher's. . . . Kopetzky and Ladinser. . . . Who else was along with us at the time?-Yes, that's right . . . that volunteer, the one who told us the Jewish stories while we were marching. Sometimes they're pleasant fellows, these one-year men. . . . But they all ought to be only substitutes. For what sense is there to it: all of us slave for ages, and a fellow like him serves a year and receives the same rank as we. . . . It's unfair!-But what's it to me? Why should I bother about such things? A private in the quartermaster corps counts for more than I do right now. . . . I no longer belong on the face of the earth. . . . It's all over with me. Honor lost-everything lost! . . . There's nothing else for me to do but load my revolver and . . . Gustl, Gustl, you still don't quite believe it? Come to your senses! . . . There's no way out. . . . No matter how you torture your brain, there's no way out!-The point is to behave properly at the end, like an officer and a gentleman so that the colonel will say: He was a good fellow, we'll always honor his memory! . . . How many companies attend the funeral of a lieutenant? . . . I really must know that. . . . Haha! Even if the whole battalion turns out, even if the whole garrison turns out, and they fire twenty salutes, it still won't wake me up! Last summer, after the army Steeplechase, I was sitting in front of this cafe here with Engel. . . . Funny, I've never seen the fellow since. . . . Why did he have his left eye bandaged? I always wanted to ask him, but it didn't seem proper. . . . There go two artillerymen. . . . They probably think I'm following that woman. . . . Actually I ought to have a look at her . . . Oh, Lord! I wonder how that one can possibly earn a living d sooner . . . However, in time of need a person will do almost anything. . . . In Przemsyl-I was so horrified afterwards that I swore I'd never look at a woman again. . . . That was a ghastly time up there in Galicia. . . . Altogether a stroke of fortune that we came to Vienna. Bokorny is still in Sambor, and may stay another ten years, getting old and gray. . . . What happened to me today would never have happened if I'd remained there myself, and I'd far sooner grow old in Galicia than . . . Than what? Than what?-What is it? What is it? Am I crazy-the way I always forget?-Good God, I forget it every moment. . . . Has anyone ever heard of a man who within two hours of putting a bullet through his head digresses on all conceivable matters that no longer concern him? I feel as if I were drunk. Haha, drunk indeed! Dead drunk! Drunk with suidde! Ha, trying to he funny! Yes, I'm in a good mood-must have been born with one. Certainly, if I ever told anybody they'd say I were lying.-1 feel that if I had the revolver with me now . . . I'd pull the trigger-in a second all is over. . . . Not everyone is so lucky-others have to suffer for months. My poor cousin, on her back two years, couldn't move, had the most excruciating pains, what misery! Isn't it better when you take it in hand yourself? Care is the only thing necessary; to aim well, so that nothing unfortunate happens, as it did to that cadet last year. . . . Poor devil, didn't die, but ended up blind. . . . Whatever happened to him? Wonder where he's living now. Terrible to run around the way he-that is, he can't run around, he's led. A chap like him-can't be more than twenty years old right now. He took better aim on his beloved. . . . She was dead at once. . . . Unbelievable, the reasons people have for killing. How can anyone be jealous? . I've never been jealous in my whole life. At this very moment Steffi is sitting comfortably at the Gartenbau; then she will go home with "him." . . . Doesn't mean a thing to me. . . . Not a thing. She has a nicely furnished place-a little bathroom with a red lamp- When she recently came in, in her green kimono. . . . I'll never see the green kimono again-Steffi, herself, I'll never see again-And I'll never go up the fine broad steps in Gusshaus Strasse. Steffi will keep on amusing herself as if nothing had happened; she won't be allowed to tell a soul that her beloved Gustl committed suicide. But she'll wee-oh, yes, she'll weep. A great many people will weep. . . .Good God, Mama!-No, no, I can't think about it. Oh, no, I can't bear to. . . . You're not to think about home at all, Gustl, you understand? Not even with the faintest thought.
Not bad, I'm already at the Prater in the middle of the night That's another thing I didn't think of this morning, that tonight I'd be taking a walk in the Prater. . . . Wonder what the cop there thinks. . . . Well, I'll walk on. It's rather nice here. No point in eating; no fun in the cafe. The air is pleasant and it's quiet. . . . Indeed, I'll have a great deal of quiet-as much as I could possibly want. Haha!-But I'm altogether out of breath. I must have been running like crazy. . . . Slower, slower, Gustl, you won't miss anything, there's nothing more to do, nothing, absolutely nothing! What's this, am I getting a chill?-Probably on account of all the excitement, and then I haven't eaten a thing. What's that strange smell? . . . Are the blossoms out yet?-What's today?-The fourth of April. It's been raining a great deal the last few days, but the trees are still almost entirely bare . . . how dark it is! Hooh! Dark enough to give you the shivers. . . . That was really the only time in my whole life I was scared-when I was a little kid that time in the woods. . . . But I wasn't so little at that.
Fourteen or fifteen. . . . How long ago was it?-Nine years. Sure- at eighteen I was a substitute; a twenty a lieutenant and next year I'll be . . . What'll I be next year? What do I mean; next year? What do I mean; next week? What do I mean; tomorrow? . . . What's this? Teeth chattering? Oh!-Well! let them chatter a while. Lieutenant, you are altogether alone right now and have no reason for showing off. . . . It's bitter, oh, it's bitter.
I'll sit on that bench. . . . Ah. . . . How far have I come?-How dark it is! That behind me there, that must be the second cafe. . . . I was in there, too, last summer at the time our band gave a concert. . . . With Kopetzky and with Ruttner-there were a couple of others along. . . . -Lord, I'm tired. . . . As tired as if I'd been marching for the last ten hours. . . . Yes, it would be fine to go to sleep now.-Ha, a lieutenant without shelter!
Yes, I really ought to go home. . . . What'll I do at home?-But what am I doing in the Prater?-Ah, it would be best never to get up at all-to sleep here and never wake up. . . . Yes, that would be comfortable! But, Lieutenant, things aren't going to be as comfortable as that for you. . . . What next?-Well I might really consider the whole affair in orderly sequence. . . . All things must be considered. . . Life is like that. . . . Well, then, let's consider.
Consider what? . . . My God, doesn't the air feel good.
I ought to go to the Prater more often at night. . . . That should have occurred to me sooner. It's all a thing of the past-the Prater, the air and taking walks. . . . Well, then, what next?-Off with my cap. It's pressing on my forehead. . . . I can't think properly.
Ah. . . . That's better! . . . Now, Gustl, collect your thoughts, make your final arrangements! Tomorrow morning will be the end. . . . Tomorrow morning at seven . . . seven o'clock is a beautiful hour. Haha!-At eight o'clock when school begins, all will be over. . . . Kopetzky won't be able to teach-he'll be too broken up. . . . But maybe he'll know nothing about it yet.
No need to hear about it.. . . They didn't find Max Lippay until the afternoon, and it was in the morning that he had shot himself, and not a soul heard it. . . . But why bother about whether Kopetzky will teach school tomorrow. . . . Ha!-Well, then, at seven o'clock-Yes. . Well, what next? . . Nothing more to consider. I'll shoot myself in my room and then-basta! The funeral will be Monday. . . . I know one man who'll enjoy it: the lawyer. The duel can't take place on account of the suicide of one of the combatants. . . . Wonder what they'll say at Mannheimers?-WelI, he won't make much of it. . . . But his wife, his pretty, blond . . . She did not seem disinclined. .
Oh, yes, I would have had a chance with her if I'd only pulled myself together a little. . . Yes, with her it might have been something altogether different from that broad Steffi. . . But the thing is, you can't be lazy: it's a question of courting in the proper way, sending flowers, making reasonable conversation . . not: meet me tomorrow afternoon at the barracks! . . Yes, a decent woman like her-that might have been something. The captain's wife at Przemsyl wasn't respectable. . I could swear that Lubitzsky and Wermutek . . and the shabby substitute-they all had her, too. . . . But Mannheimer's wife . . . Yes, that would have put me in a different social circle. That might almost have made me a different man-she might have given me more polish-or have given me more respect for myself- But always those easy types . . . and I began so young-I was only a boy that time on my first vacation when I was home with my parents in Graz. . . Riedl was also along. . . . she was Bohemian. . . Must have been twice as old as I-came home only the following morning.
The way Father looked at me . . . And Clara. I was most ashamed of all before Clara. . . . She was engaged at the time.
Wonder why the engagement never materialized. I didn't think much about it at the time. Poor thing, never had much luck-and now she's going to lose her only brother. . . . Yes, you'll never see me again, Clara-it's all over. You didn't foresee, little sister, did you, when you saw me at the station on New Year's Day, that you'd never see me again?-And Mother. . . Good God! Mother!
No, I can't allow myself to think of it. Ah, if I could only go home first. . . . When I think of that, I'm capable of doing some-thing dishonorable. Say I have a day's leave. . . . See Papa, Mama, Clara again before it's all over. . . . Yes, I could take the first train at seven o'clock to Graz. I'd be there at one. . . . God bless you, Mama. . . . Hello, Clara! . . . How goes everything?
Well this is a surprise. . . . But they'll notice something. . . . If no one else, at least Clara will. . . . Clara for sure . . . Clara's such a smart girl. . . . She wrote me such a sweet letter the other day, and I still owe her an answer-and the good advice she always gives me. Such a wholeheartedly good creature. . . . Wonder whether everything wouldn't have turned out differently if I'd stayed at home. I might have studied agriculture and joined my uncle on his estate. . . . They all wanted me to do that when I was a kid. . . . By this time I'd be happily married to a nice, sweet girl. . . . Perhaps Anna-she used to like me a lot. . . . I just noticed it again the last time I was home-in spite of her husband and two children. . . . I could see it, just the way she looked at me. . . . And she still calls me "Gustl," just like she used to.
Jt will hit her hard when she finds out the way I ended up- but her husband will say: I might have known as much-a no-good like him!- They'll all think it was because I owed money. It's not true. I've paid all my debt- except the last hundred and sixty gulden-and they'll be here tomorrow. Well I must see to it that Ballert gets his hundred and sixty gulden-I must make a note of that before I sho6t myself. . . . It's terrible, it's terrible!
If I only could run away from it all and go to America where nobody knows me. In America no one will know what happened here this evening. . . . No one cares about such things there. Just recently I read in the paper about some Count Runge, who had to leave because of some nasty story, and now he owns a hotel over there and doesn't give a hoot for the whole damn business. And in a couple of years I could come back. . . . Not to Vienna, of course. . . . Nor to Graz . . . but I could go out to the estate.
And Mama and Papa and Clara would a dozen times rather have it that way-lust so long as I stay alive. . . . And why worry about the other people at all? Who ever cares about me?-Kopetzky's the only one who'd ever miss me. . . . Kopetzky-just the one who gave me the ticket today . . . and the ticket's to blame for it all. If he hadn't given it to me, I wouldn't have gone to the concert, and all this would never have happened.. . . What did happen anyway? It's just as if a whole century had passed-and it's only two hours ago. Two hours ago someone called me a fathead and wanted to break my sword. Great God, I'm starting to shout here at midnight! Why did it all happen? Couldn't I have waited longer until the whole wardrobe had emptied out? And why did I ever tell him to shut up? How did it ever slip out of me? I'm generally polite. I'm usually not so rude, even to my orderly. . . . But of course I was nervous: all the things that happened just at the same ..... . . The tough luck in gambling and Steffi's eternal stalling-and the duel tomorrow afternoon- and I've been getting too little sleep lately, and all the drudgery in the barracks. . . . No one can stand that forever! . . . Before long I would have become ill-would have had to get a furlough. . Now it's no longer necessary. . . . I'll get a long furlough now-without pay-Haha! .
How long am I going to keep on sitting here? It must be after midnight. . . . Didn't I hear the clock strike midnight a while ago?-What's that there? A carriage driving by? At this hour? Rubber tire-I can already imagine . . . They're better off than I. Perhaps it's Ballert with his Bertha. . . . Why should it be Ballert, of all people?-Go ahead, right on! That was a good looking carriage His Highness had in Przemsyl. . . . He used to ride in it all the time on his way to the city to see the Rosenberg woman. He was a good mixer, His Highness-chummy with everyone, a good drinking companion. Those were good times. . . . Although it was in a desolate part of the country, and the weather was hot enough in the summer to kill you. . . . One afternoon three men were overcome by the heat. . . . Even the corporal in my own company-a handy fellow he was. . . . During the afternoon we used to lie down naked on the bed. Once Wiesner came into the room suddenly; I must lust have been dreaming. I stood up and drew my sword-it was lying next to me. . . . Must have looked funny! . . . Wiesner laughed himself sick. He's already been promoted to lieutenant colonel in the cavalry-sorry I didn't go into the cavalry myself. The old man didn't want me to-it would have been too expensive-but it makes no difference now.
Why?-Yes, I know: I must die, that's why it makes no difference-I must die. . . . How then?-Look here, Gustl, you came down here to the Prater in the middle of the night especially so that not a soul would bother you-now you can think everything over quietly. . . . That's all a lot of nonsense about America and quitting the service, and you haven't the brains to start on another career. And when you reach the age of a hundred and think back to the time that a fellow wanted to break your sword, and called you a fathead and you stood there and couldn't do a thing-no, there's nothing more to think about-what's happened has happened.-That's all nonsense about Mama and Clara-they'll get over it-people get over everything. . . . Oh, Lord, how Mama wept when her brother died-and after four weeks she hardly thought about it anymore. She used to ride out to the cemetery . . first, every week, then every month, and now only on the day of his death. Tomorrow is the day of my death-April fifth.-Wonder whether they'll take my body to Graz-Haha! The worms in Graz will enjoy it!-But that's not my problem-I'll let others worry about that. . . . Well then, what actually does concern me? . . Oh yes, the hundred and sixty gulden for Ballert-that's all-other than that I have no arrangements to make.-Are there letters to write? What for? To whom? . . . Taking my leave? The devil I will-it's clear enough that a man's gone after he's shot himself! Everyone will soon notice that he's taken his leave.
If people only knew how little the whole thing bothers me, they wouldn't feel sorry-No use pitying me. . . . What have I had out of life?-One thing I'd like to have experienced: being in war-but I would have had to wait a long time for that. . . . Outside of that I've experienced everything. Whether a broad's called Steffi or Kunigunde makes no difference. . . . And I've heard all the
best operettas-and I've been to see Lohengrin twelve times-and this evening I even heard an oratorion-and a baker called me a fathead.-Good God, I've had enough! I'm not in the least curious anymore. . . Well then, I'll go home slowly, very slowly, there's really no hurry.-l'Il rest for a few minutes on the bench here in the Prater, not a roof over my head. I'll never lie down in bed again. I'll have enough time to sleep.-This wonderful air! There'll be no more air. Well, what's this?-Hey, there, Johann, bring me a glass of fresh water. . . . What's this? . . . Where? . . . Am I dreaming? My head. Oh, Good Lord . . . I can't get my eyes open!-I'm all dressed!-Where am I sitting?-Holy God, I've been sleeping! How could I have been sleeping? It's already growing light. How long have I been sleeping?-Must look at my watch-can't see a thing.
Where are my matches? Won't a single one of them light? Three o'clock, and I'm to have my duel at four.-No, not a duel-a suicide! It has nothing to do with a duel; I must shoot myself because a baker called me a fathead. . . . What, did it actually happen?-My head feels so funny. . . . My throat's all clogged u~l can't move at all-my right foot's asleep.-Get up! Get up! . . . Ah, that's better! It's already growing light, and the air. . . just like that morning when I was doing picket duty when we were camping in the woods. That was a different kind of waking up-that was a different sort of day ahead of me. . · . It seems as though I'm having trouble believing it. There's the street-gray, empty-just now I'm probably the only person in the Prater. I was here once at four o'clock in the morning with Pansinger.-We were riding. I was on Colonel Mirovic's horse, and Pansinger on his own nag.-That was May, a year ago- everything was in bloom-everything was green. Now the trees are still bare, but spring will soon be here-it will be here in just a few days.-Lilies-of-the-valley, violets-pity I'll never see them again. Every yokel will enjoy them, but I must die! Oh, it's miserable! And others will sit in the cafe eating, as if nothing had happened-just the way all of us sat in the cafe' on the evening of the day they buried Lippay. . .and they all liked Lippay so much. . . He was more popular in the regiment than me.-Why shouldn't they sit in the Weingartl when I kick off?-It's quite warm-much warmer than yesterday and there's a fragrance in the air-the blossoms must be out. Wonder whether Steffi will bring me flowers?-lt will never occur to her! She wouldn't dream of going to the funeral. . . Oh, if it were still Adele . Adele! I'm sure I haven't thought of her for the last two years. . . . As long as I lived I never saw a woman weep the way she did. . . . Come to think of it, that was the tenderest thing I ever lived through . . . she was so modest, so unassuming.-She loved me, I swear she did.-She was altogether different from Stefti. . . . I wonder why I ever gave her up. What a stupid thing! . . . It was too tame for me, yes, that was what it was. . . . Going out with the same person every evening Then perhaps I was afraid that I'd never be able to get rid of her-she always whimpered so.-Well, Gustl, you could have postponed it . . . after all, she was the only one who really loved you. Wonder what she's doing now. Well, what would she be doing-probably has someone else now. This, with Steffi, is much more comfortable. When you're only together off and on-someone else has all the inconvenience- and I just have the pleasant part- Well, in that case I certainly can't expect her to come to the cemetery. Wonder if there's anyone who'd go without feeling obliged to. Kopetzky, perhaps-and that's all! Oh, it's sad, not to have anyone. . . . Nonsense! There's Papa and Mama and Clara. It's because I'm a son and a brother. . . . What more is there to hold us together? They like me of course- but what do they know about me?-That I'm in the service, that I play cards, and that I run around with fast women. . . . Anything more? The fact I often get good and sick of myself-that I never wrote to them about-perhaps the reason is because I have never realized it myself. Well, Gustl, what sort of stuff are you muttering to yourself? It's just about time to start crying. . . . Disgusting!-Keep in step. So! Whether a man goes to a rendezvous or on duty or to battle.
Who was it said that? . . . Oh yes, it was Major Lederer. When they were telling us that time at the canteen about Wingleder-the one who grew so pale before his first duel-and vomited.
Yes, a true officer will never betray by look or step whether he goes to a rendezvous or certain death!-Therefore, Gustl-remember the major's words! Ha!-Always growing lighter. Light enough to read, if you wanted to . . . What's that whistling there?-Oh yes, there's the North Raitroad Station. . . . the Tegethoff monument . . . It's never looked that tall before.
There are the carriages. Nobody except street cleaners around. They're the last street cleaners I'll ever see-Ha! I always have to laugh when I think of it. . . . I don't understand that at all
Wonder whether it's that way with everybody, once they're entirely sure. Three thirty by the clock at the North Railroad Stataon. . . . The only question now is whether I'm to shoot myself at seven o'clock railroad time or Vienna time. . . . Seven o'clock
Well, why exactly seven? . . . As if it couldn't be any other time as well. . . . I'm hungry-Lord, I'm hungry-No wonder.
Since when haven't I eaten? . . . Since- not since yesterday at six o'clock in the cafe! When Kopetzky handed me the ticket-cafe au lait and two croissants -Wonder what the baker will say when he hears about it? . . . Damned swine. He'll know-he'll catch on, he'll realize what it means to be an Austrian officer-a fellow like that can get in a fight in the open street and think nothing of it. But if an officer is insulted even in secret, he's as good as dead. . . . If a rascal like that could fight duel~but no, then at least he'd be much more careful-he wouldn't take a chance like that. The fellow keeps on living quietly and peacefully while I-croak! He's responsible for my death. . . Do you realize, Gustl, it is he who is responsible for your death! But he won't get off as easily as that!-No, no, no! I'll send Kopetzky a letter telling him the whole story. . . . Better yet: I'll write to the colonel. He'll make a report to the military command. . . . Just like an official report. . . . Just wait-you think, do you, that a matter like this can remain secret!-That's where you're wrong.-it will be reported and remembered forever. After that I'd like to see whether you'll venture into the cafe!-Ha!-"I'd like to see" is good! There are lots of things I'd like to see which unfortunately I won't be able to- It's all over!-Johann must be going into my room this very minute. And now he notices that the lieutenant hasn't slept at home.-Well he'll imagine all sorts of things. But that the lieutenant has spent the night in the Prater-that, on my word, will never occur to him.
Ah, there goes the Forty-fourth! They're marching out to target practice. Let them pass.-l'll remain right here. . . . A window is being opened up there.-Pretty creature.-Well I would at least put on a shawl or something when I go to an open window. Last Sunday was the last time. I'd never have dreamt that Steffi of all people would be the last. Oh God, that's the only real pleasure. Well, now the colonel will ride after them in two hours in his grand manner. These big fellows take life easy.-Yes, yes, eyes to the right! Very good. If you only knew how little I care about you all. Ah, that's not had at all: there goes Katzer. Since when has he Leen transferred to the Forty-fourth ?-How do you do, good morning! What sort of a face is he making? Why is he pointing at his head?-My dear fellow, your skull interests me not at all.
Oh, I see. No, my good chap, you're mistaken: I've just spent the night in the Prater. . . . You will read about it in the evening paper.-"Impossible!" he'll say, "Early this morning as we were marching out to target practice I met him on the Prater Strasse"-Who'll be put in command of my platoon? I wonder whether they'll give it to. Walterer. Well that'll be a good one! A fellow totally devoid of pizzaz-should have gone into shoe repair.-What, the sun coming up already!-This will be a beautiful day-a real spring day. The devil-on a day like thisl-Every cab driver will still be here at eight o'clock this morning and I-well, what about me? Now really, it would be funny if I lost my nerve at the last minute just because of some cab drivers. . . . Why is my heart suddenly pounding this way?-Not because of that . . . No, oh no, it's because I haven't eaten in such a long time. But Gustl, be honest with yourself: you're scared-scared because you have never tried it before. . . . But that's no help to you. Being scared never helped anybody. Everyone has to experience it once. Some sooner, some later, and you just happen to have your warn sooner. As a matter of fact you never were worth an awful lot, so the least you can do is to behave decently- at the very end, that I demand of you. I'll have to figure it out-figure out what? . . . I'm always trying to figure something out. . . . But it's so easy . . . It's lying in the drawer of my night stand-loaded-all I have to do is pull the trigger-certainly not very tricky!
That girl over there's already going to work . . . the poor girls! Adele also used to have to go to work-I went and picked her up a few times in the evening. When they have a job they don't play around so much with men. If Steffi belonged only to me, I would have her sell hats or something. Wonder how she'll find out about it? . . . In the newspaper! She'll be angry that I didn't write to tell her. I believe I'm beginning to lose my mind. Why bother about whether she'll be angry or not? How long has the whole affair lasted? . . . Since January. . . . No, it must have begun before Christmas. I brought her some candy from Graz, and she sent me a note at New Year's. . . . Good Lord, that's right, I have her letters at home. Are there any I should burn?
'Mm, the one from Fallsteiner. If that letter is found-the fellow will get into trouble. Why should that concern me!-Well it wouldn't be much of an exertion. . . . But I can't look through all that scrawl. . . . It would be best to burn the whole bunch.
Who'll ever need them? They're all junk.-My few books I could leave to Blany-"Through Night and Ice"-too bad I'll never be able to finish it. . . . Didn't have much chance to read these last few months. .
Organ playing? In the church there. . . . Early mass-haven't been to one in an age. . . . Last time it was in February when the whole platoon was ordered to go. But that doesn't count.-I was watching my men to see if they were reverent and behaving properly. . . . I'd like to go to church . . . there might be something to it after all. . . . Well, after lunch I'll know all about it. Ah, "this afternoon" is good!-what shall I d~go in? I think it would be a comfort to Mother if she knew! . . . It wouldn't mean as much to Clara. . . . Well, in I go. It can't hurt! Organ playing- singing- hm!-what's the matter! I'm growing dizzy. . . . Oh God, Oh, God, Oh, God! I want somebody whom I can talk to before it happens!- How would it be-if I went to confession! The old cleric would certainly open his eyes wide if he heard me say at the end, "Pardon, Reverend Father; I am now going to shoot myself!"
Most of all I want to lie down there on the stone floor and cry my eyes out. . . . Oh no, I don't dare do that. But crying sometimes helps so much. . . . I'll sit down a moment, but I won't go to sleep again as I did in the Prater! . . . -People who have religion are much better off. . . . Well, now my hands are beginning to tremble! If it keeps on this way, I'll soon become so disgusted at myself that I'll commit suicide out of pure shame! That old woman there-What's she still got to pray for? . . . It would be a good idea to say to her: You, please include me too. . . .never learned how to do it properly. Ha! It seems that dying makes one stupid!-Stand up! Where have I heard that melody before?- Holy God! Last night!-It's the melody from the oratorio! Out, out of here, I can't stand it any more. 'Pst! Not so much noise letting that sword drag-don't disturb the people in their prayers-so!-it's better in the open. . . . Light. . . . The time's always growing shorter. Wish it were over already!-I should have done it at once in the Prater. . . . I should never go out without a revolver. . . . If I'd had one yesterday evening. . . . Good Lord Almighty!-I might take breakfast in the cafe. . . . I'm hungry. It always used to seem remarkable that people who were condemned to death drank their coffee and smoked their cigar in the morning.
Heavens, I haven't even smoked! I haven't even felt like smoking!-This is funny: I really feel like going to the cafe.
Yes, it's already open, and there's none of our crowd there right now . . . and if there were-it would be a magnificent sign of cool-headedness! "At six o'clock he was eating breakfast in the cafe and at seven he killed himself." . . . -I feel altogether calm again. Walking is so pleasant-and best of all, nobody is forcing me. If I wanted to I could still chuck the whole damn business.
America. . . . What do I mean, "whole damn business"? What "damn business"? I wonder whether I'm getting a sunstroke. Oho!-am I so quiet because I still imagine that I don't have to? . . . I do have to! I must! No, I will! Can you picture yourself, Gustl, taking off your uniform and beating it, and the damned swine laughing behind your back? And not even Kopetzky wanting to shake hands with you anymore? . . . I blush just to think of it.-The cop is saluting me. . . . I must acknowledge it. . . . "Good morning, sir!" There now, I've treated him like an equal! . . . It always pleases a poor devil like him.
Well, no one ever had to complain about me.. . . Off duty I was always pleasant. . . . When we were at the maneuvers I gave my NCOs Havana cigars. One time at drill I heard an enlisted man behind me say something about "the damned drudgery," and I didn't even report him.-I merely said to him, "See here, be careful-some one else might hear it, and then you'll be in hot water."
The palace yard . . . Wonder who's on guard today?-The Bosniac~they look good. Just recently the lieutenant colonel said, "When we were down there in '78, no one would have believed that they'd ever stoop to us the way they have." Good God, that's a place I'd like to have been! Those fellows are all getting up from the bench. I'll salute. It's too bad I couldn't have been part of something like that-that would have been so much more wonderful-on the field of battle for the Fatherland, than . . . Yes, mister lawyer, you're getting off easy! . . . Wonder if someone couldn't take my place? Great God, there's an idea-I'll leave word for Kopetzky or Wymetal to take my place in the duel! . . . He shouldn't get off so easy as that!-Oh well, what difference does it make what happens later on? I'll never hear anything about it!-The trees are beginning to bud. . . . I once picked up a girl here at the Volksgarten-she was wearing a red dress-lived in the Strozzi Gasse-later Rochlitz took her off my hands. . . . I think he still keeps her, but he never says anything about it-probably ashamed of it. . . . Steffi's still sleeping, I suppose.
She looks so pretty when she's asleep- just as if she couldn't count to five!-Well, they all look alike when they're asleep!-! ought to drop her a line:. . . Why not? Everyone does it . . . writes letters just before-I also want to write Clara to console Papa and Mama and the sort of stuff that one writes!-And to Kopetzky. My Lord, I'll bet it would be much easier if one said good-bye to a few people . . . and the report to the officers of the regiment.-And the hundred and sixty gulden for Ballert. . . . Still lots of things to do. Well, nob6dy insists that I do it at seven. . . . There's still time enough after eight o'clock for being deceased! Deceased! That's the word-That's all there is to it.
Ringstrasse-I'll soon be at my cafe. . . . Funny, I'm actually looking forward to breakfast. . . . Unbelievable.-After breakfast I'll light a cigar, then I'll go home and write. . . . First of all I'll make my report to the military command; then the letter to Clara-then the one to Kopetzky-then the one to Steffi. What on earth am I going to write that hussy? . . . My dear child, you should probably never have thought. . . Lord, what nonsense!-My dear child, I thank you ever so much. . . -My dear child, before I take my leave, I will not overlook the opportunity. . . Well, letter writing was never my forte. . . . My dear child, one last farewell from your Gustl. . . . -What eyes she'll make! It's lucky I wasn't in love with her. . . . It must be sad if one loves a girl and then . . . Well, Gustl, let well enough alone: it's sad enough as it is. . . . Others would have come along after Steffi, and finally there would have been one who'd have been worth something-a young girl from a substantial family, with a good dowry-it might have been rather nice. . . -I must write Clara a detailed letter explaining why I couldn't do otherwise. . . . You must forgive me, my dear sister, and please console our dear parents. I know that I caused you all a good deal of worry and considerable pain; but believe me, I always loved all of you, and I hope that some time you will be happy, my dear Clara, and will not completely forget your unhappy brother. . . -Oh, I'd better not write to her at all! . . . No, it's too sad. I can already feel the tears in my eyes, when I think. . . . At least I'll write to Kopetzky.
A man-to-man farewell, and that he should let the others know. . . -Already six o'clock-Oh no, half-past five- quarter to.- If that isn’t a charming little face!-The little teenager, with her black eyes. I've met her so often in the Florianigasse!-Wonder what she'll say?-But she doesn't even know who I am-she'll only wonder why she doesn't see me any more. . . . Day before yesterday I made up my mind to speak to her the next time I met her.-She's been flirting plenty and in the end even a virgin.
She was so young-. . . . Yes, Gustl! Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today.. . . That fellow over there probably hasn't slept all night either-Well, now he'll go home comfortably and lie down.-So will I!-Haha! This is getting serious, Gustl! Well if there weren't a little fear connected with it, there'd be nothing to it at all-and on the whole I must say in behalf of myself that I have been behaving very nobly. . . . Where'll I go now? There's my cafe. . . . They're still sweeping. . . . Well, I'll go in.
There's the table where they always play Tarok. . . . Remarkable, I can't imagine why that fellow who's always sitting next to the wall should be the same one who . . . -Nobody here yet.
Where's the waiter? . . . Ha!-There's one coming out of the kitchen. . . . Quickly putting on his apron . . . It's really no longer necessary! . . . Well, it is, for him. . . . He'll have to wait on other people today.
"Good morning, Lieutenant."
"So early today, Lieutenant?"
"Oh that's all right-I haven't much time, I'll just sit here with my coat on.
"Your order, Sir?"
"A cafe au lait."
"Thank you-right away, Lieutenant."
Ah, there are the newspapers . . . are they out as early as this? Wonder what they say? Well, what? It's as though I wanted to see if they say I've committed suicide! . . . Haha!-Why am I still standing up? . . . Let's sit down by the window. . . He's already brought in the coffee. There, I'll pull the curtain. I feel uncomfortable with people gaping in. Nobody's out yet. . . . Ah, this coffee tastes good-it wasn't a bad idea, this breakfast! .
I feel like a new man.-The whole trouble was that I didn't eat anything last night. Why is the waiter back already? Oh, he's also brought some rolls. .
"Has the Lieutenant already heard?"
"Heard what?" For God's sake, does he know something about it already? . . . Nonsense, it's absolutely impossible!
"Herr Habetswallner-" What, what's that? That's the baker's name. . . . What's he going to say now? . . . Has he been here already? Was he here yesterday telling them the whole story? .
Why doesn't he tell me more? . . . But he's talking right now.
"-had a stroke last night at twelve o'clock."
"What?" . . . I mustn't shout this way. . . . No, I can't allow anybody to notice it. . . But perhaps I'm dreaming. . . . I must ask him again. .
"Who did you say had a stroke?"-Rather good, that!-I said it quite innocently!-"The baker, Lieutenant. You must know him. . . . Don't you remember the fat fellow who played Tarok at the table next to the officers' here every afternoon . . . with Herr Schlesinger and Herr Wasner-the one in the paper-flower business?!"
I'm completely awake-everything seems to check up- and still I just can't believe him.-I'll have to ask him again. . . . Altogether innocently. .
“You say that he was overcome by a stroke? . . . How did it happen? Who told you about it?"
"Who could know it sooner than we here, Lieutenant?-That roll you are eating there comes from Herr Habetswallner's own bakery. His delivery boy who comes here at half-past four in the morning told us about it." Look out! I mustn't give myself away. . . . I feel like shouting. I'll burst out laughing in a minute. In another second I'll kiss
Rudolph. . . But I must ask him something else! Having a stroke doesn't mean that he's dead. . . . I must ask him-if he's dead.
Altogether calmly-why should the baker concern me?-l must look in the paper while I'm asking the waiter.
"You say he's dead?"
"Why certainly, Lieutenant, he died immediately."
Wonderful, wonderful! . . . Maybe all because I went to church.
"He went to the theater last night. On the way out he fell on the stairs-the janitor heard him fall. . . . Well, they carried him to his home, and he died long before the doctor ever arrived."
"That's sad-too bad. He was still in the prime of life." I said that marvelously-not a soul can tell. . . . And I have to do everything to keep from shouting my lungs out and jumping up on the billiard table.
"Yes, Lieutenant, it is very sad. He was such a nice gentleman; he's been coming to this place for the last twenty year~he was a good friend of the boss. And his poor wife.
I don't think I've felt as happy as this as long as I've lived. He's dead-dead! Nobody knows about it, and nothing's happened!-What a brilliant piece of luck that I came into the cafe. . . .0therwise I'd have shot myself for nothing-it's like a benediction from heaven. . . . Where did Rudolph go? Oh, he's talking to the furnace man. . . . -Well, he's dead- dead. I just can't seem to believe it! I'd better go and take a look at him myself.-He probably had a stroke out of anger-couldn't control himself.
Well, what difference does it make why it happened! The main thing is he's dead, and I can keep on living, and everything belongs to me again! . . . Funny, the way I keep on dunking the roll-the roll Habetswallner baked for me! It tastes very good too, Herr Habetswallner. Splendid!-Ah, now I'll light a cigar. .
"Rudolph! Hey, Rudolph! Don't argue so much with the furnace man.
"What is it, Lieutenant?"
"Bring me a cigar." . . . -I'm so happy, so happy! . . . What am I doing? . . . What am I doing? . . . Something's got to happen, or I'll be overcome by a stroke of joy! In a few minutes I'll wander over to the barracks and let Johann give me a cold rubdown. . . . At half-past seven we have drill and at half-past nine formation.-And I'll write Steffi to leave this evening open for me no matter what! And this afternoon at four. . . . Just wait, my boy, I'm in wonderful form. . . . I'll knock you to smithereens!
Translated by Richard L. Simon and revised by Caroline Wellberyfa