Friday, October 13, 2017

the last book I ever read (The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth, excerpt twelve)

from The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth:

It was a wonderful morning. The district captain had been trying his dress uniform on all night long. He left the window open. It was a bright summer night. From time to time he went over to the window. He would then hear the sounds of the slumbering city and the crowing of roosters in distant farmyards. He smelled the breath of summer; he saw the stars in the patch of nocturnal sky, he heard the even footfalls of the policeman on his beat. He waited for morning. For the tenth time he stood at the mirror, adjusted the bow of his white tie over the corners of the stand-up collar, ran his white cambric handkerchief once again over the gold buttons on his coat, polished the gold pommel of his sword, brushed his shoes, combed out his whiskers, and forced down the few wisps on his bald pate even through they kept sticking up and curling, and he once again brushed the swallow tails of his coat. He took the cocked hat in his hand. He stood in front of the mirro and rehearsed: “Your Majesty, I beg for clemency for my son!” He saw his whiskers moving in the mirror and considered that inappropriate, and he began pronouncing the sentence in such a way that his whiskers did not stir even though the words were distinct and audible.

He did not feel the slightest fatigue. He stepped back to the window like a man on a far shore. And he yearned for morning the way that man looks forward to a ship that will carry him home. Yes, he was homesick for the Kaiser. He stood at the window until the gray shimmer of dawn brightened the sky, the morning star died, and the confused voices of birds announced the rising of the sun. Then he switched out the lights in the room. He rang the bell by the door. He sent for the the barber. He slipped off his coat. He sat down. He had himself shaved. “Twice,” he told the groggy young man, “and against the grain!” Now his ching glistened bluish between his silvery whiskers. The alum tingled, the powder cooled his throat. His audience was scheduled for eighty-thirty. Once again he brushed his black-and-green coat. He repeated in front of the mirror, “Your Majesty, I beg for clemency for my son!” Then he closed the door behind him.

No comments:

Post a Comment