Vol. 8 No. 2 1941 - page 154

it," he said. The explorer bent. so low over the paper that the officer drew
it back, fearing he might touch it; actually the explorer said nothing more,
but it was clear that he still had not been able to read it. "It says:
the officer repeated.
may he so," said the explorer, "I
believe that's what it says." "All right then," said the officer, at least par–
tially satisfied, and he climbed the ladder still holding the page; with
great caution he laid it on the draughtsman, and then began apparently to
rearrange the entire mechanism; it was a very tedious job, for the wheels
in question must have been very tiny; sometimes his head disappeared com–
pletely in the draughtsman, he was obliged to examine the wheelwork
so closely.
The explorer continued to follow the work from below, his neck grew
stiff, his eyes began to smart from the sunlight-flooded sky. The guard and
the condemned man were now occupied only with each other. With the
point of his bayonet, the guard lifted up the condemned man's shirt and
trousers which were lying in the ditch. The shirt was frightfully dirty,
and the condemned man washed it in the water-pail. Both had to laugh
aloud when the condemned man put the shirt and trousers on, for both
garments had been slashed in two behind. Perhaps the offender thought
it his duty to entertain the guard; in his slit clothes he made circles around
the guard, who was crouching on the ground, laughing and beating his
knees. Nevertheless they restrained themselves somewhat, out of respect
for the presence of the two gentlemen.
When the officer had finally finished up above, he smilingly surveyed
the whole in all its parts once more, banged shut the cover of the draughts–
man, which until now had been open, climbed down and looked first into
the ditch, then at the condemned man; noticed with satisfaction that the
latter had recovered his garments, walked towards the pail to wash his
hands, recognized too late the repulsive filth in it, became saddened at the
fact that now he could not wash his hands, at last dipped his fingers in the
sand-this substitute did not suffice but he had to accommodate himself–
then rose and began to unbutton the coat of his uniform. At this, the two
lady's handkerchiefs which he had stuck in his collar, fell into his hands.
"Here, take your handkerchiefs," he said, and threw them towards the
condemned man. In explanation he said to the explorer: "Gifts from the
In spite of the evident hurry with which he took off his coat and then
undressed completely, he nevertheless handled each garment very care–
fully. He even let his fingers run over the silver cord on his tunic and
shook one of the tassels straight. Yet it was little in keeping with this
carefulness that, as soon as he had finished handling a garment, he imme–
diately threw it into the ditch, with an angry gesture. The last thing that
remained was his smallsword and belt. He drew the sword from its scab–
bard, broke it, then gathered everything together-the pieces of the sword,
the scabbard and the belt-and threw them away so violently that they
clinked together in the ditch.
80...,144,145,146,147,148,149,150,151,152,153 155,156,157,158,159,160
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