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From Hell to Heaven
Chapter 133 - The Count and the ruthless one. Their life stories. Their unanimous denial of God. The proud and his miserable end.
1. Says the Count: “Friend, you sure take ruthlessness to new heights; you only condemn yourself therewith. Would you welcome their riddance of you along those lines?” – Says the unscrupulous one: “This applies to one as to another! If someone were not to dispose of me when to his advantage, then I would call him a donkey!”
2. Says the Count: “You would therefore give me no consideration either?! Says the ruthless one: “Indeed so, if it were to my advantage! Milord Count yourself thought our earthly murderers justified in getting rid of us, as they didn’t consider us useful to their cause. Can you call me wrong if I think as you do, milord Count?”
3. Says the Count: “Ah, is that the way of the times? You too wanting to trap me? But you will not succeed, for I know what to do!”
4. Says the ruthless one: “What will you and what can you do? I maintain you can do no more than in your final time on Earth, when like myself you had to follow the henchman to the gallows. We all cursed ourselves sick, but it made no difference. We conjured up all the thousand devils, but none showed up. How we cursed God, death, devil heaven, earth, sun, moon and hell; but to our wrath these didn’t seem to be bothered by us in the least. What can you still do? Do you perhaps start praying?”
5. Says the Count: “That’s the very thing I want to do, to at least annoy you to death!” – Says the unscrupulous one: “Oh, go right ahead, Mr. Count, my laughing muscles are ready! But say – to whom shall you pray? To an infinitely great God, who will hear your voice the way you hear the voices of those beings who dwell in a dewdrop by the trillions? Or to an infinitely tiny little God, whose ears could be a trifle too small for your mighty voice? Or will you tune in a little pious prayer to the most holy heart of Jesus and Mary, and holy Joseph besides?”
6. Says the furious Count: “You now shut your trap, or I shall rip into it, you accursed knave! This common cur would take it upon himself to ridicule me, the foremost nobleman of Hungary! The devil take you mad dog! I shall pray if I so desire, not having to account to your miserable, low-bred pig’s snout! Will he see to it that he gets out of my sight, or he shall sample the power of my noble arms!”
7. Says the ruthless one: “Mr. Count, what a strange person you are! Just the way you were on earth. What I said to you was no more than what I heard you say, and this annoys you to bursting point! When did you, dear Mr. Count, ever actually believe in a God? Your God was limitless space and time. Were you not often ready to vomit on seeing a crucifix or a picture of Mary? Or did you not become an enemy of the noble Kossut because he was a religious zealot to you, for frequently and earnestly calling upon God the Christ for help? Did you say the Lord’s prayer even once on Earth? And you are now going to pray? I ask: how, what and to whom?”
8. Says the Count, still in a rage: “This is none of your business! Could not I have upon Earth been quite a different man to what I appeared outwardly?"
9. Says the man of no scruples: “A very likely story, Mr. Count! I will put it to you neatly: behold, inwardly you were a friend of the charming flesh of Venus, and outwardly a gentleman, aspiring kingship over all of Hungary. To you, Christ was a lousy Swabian myth, fetched from Jewry! And any other Deity was to you some poor philosopher’s devil. And you would claim to have been a quite different man internally? Please, Mr. Baron, don’t lie to yourself! You and prayer! These are two opposite poles not likely ever to touch! Do I make sense?”
10. Says the Count: “Would he not like to tell me who actually gives him the right to talk to me as if we had herded swine together? Does he think that a Count Bethianyi will take such from him much longer? Or does he reckon us of the same rank just because we happened to fight in the same Hussar units in the last days? Oh, there he errs mightily! I say unto him that his loose trap shall soon taste the difference between him and I! Hence not another word! Would he take our other thirty-two fellow sufferers as an example! The hold their peace and see in my their best future king-in-waiting; he being the only impertinent one electing to rubbish me because I now stand there helplessly. Let him therefore lose such appetite before it could cost him heaps!”
11. Says the unscrupulous one: “Mr. Count! Our weapons in this nebularistic world consist in our tongue and occasionally the hands and feet. Regarding the tongue, you would have to have a struggle with me, and with the hands too, as I learnt boxing in England, although you may have superiority over me in the use of your legs, as I never came to turn on my heels.”
12. The Count now turns to another, saying: “Friend, what do you think of this most impertinent Hussar? Did you perhaps know him in the world? I can remember only seeing him a few times among the most common soldiers. I don’t know where he hikes from or what he formerly was.”
13. Says the addressed one: “To my recollection he was once a Franciscan monk and had notoriety as a so-called clairvoyant. He often made derogatory remarks about the Order, never tolerating reprimands. And when they tried to put him behind bars he punched up the entire monastery. When, after a time, he got sick of such raging, he one day gathered up all his sect paraphernalia, hiding them at some place and then disappearing with some monastery monies, to enlist in the next best mercenary battalion. He fought like a lion everywhere, for which reason he also bit the dust with ourselves.”
14. Says the Count: “Well, well, now I feel sorry to have been too hard on the person. If he was wise enough to punch up his monk padres then he obviously belongs among the better people. Ah, I must at once start up my friendship with him again!” The Count thereupon turns back to the ruthless one, saying: “My esteemed friend! You must bear with me a little for being somewhat discourteous towards you, no knowing who you actually were in the world. The thing takes on an entirely different aspect! So you are the giant Goliath who turned his back on his order, taking up the sword with heavy hand for the possible saving of the fatherland?”
15. Says the man of no scruples: “Yes, my dear Lord Count, I am he! I gave my life for mankind’s best, whose slave-chains became unbearably burdensome to me. We nevertheless sowed whilst others shall reap. In the foolish world it was always so, and shall be! We tilled the vineyard and reaped blood and death! But those who come after us shall press out the grape juice; a nice fate for great men! These are condemned to prepare the ground for the blowflies. At harvest time, whole swarms fall over the great, killing them and taking over the harvest. How do you like this divinely wise world system and the natural right conditions?”
16. Says the Count: “It is better to be silent about it. This system is deficient even for chance, let alone for an all-wise highest Being! The Deity, if there be one, appears not to take the slightest notice of its beings and men. Once there, the dear Deity ensures they are executed as soon as possible. To facilitate this, it lets the normally harmless humanity be driven by the most shameless selfishness and domineering. Driven by such hellish lust, a brother becomes another’s hyena, filled with unquenchable thirst for blood. Oh, a hideous game with the life of a self-conscious human doll! What compensation can a Deity offer a man who, like I, died in a shameful manner with hardly a precedent.
17. “Take one of the foremost Earls of Hungary! He is condemned to the gallows by a couple of imperial military judges and dragged to the place of execution without further ado. There, out of sheer despair, he attempts suicide that fails. The spectators, overcome with sympathy, clamour for the postponement of the execution. The executioners accede on account of the neck-wound and the Count is taken to hospital. The Count is now confident of an imperial pardon. Comes a bailiff in the evening, rouses the Count from his unconscious swoon, reads out a second death warrant to him, to be carried out immediately. The Count, as if hit by a thousand lightning strikes, collapses, having to be revived. Regaining consciousness, he is seized immediately and taken back to the place of execution, where he is shot like a dog by several huntsmen and buried like an old hag. And this Count am I, as you will probably know. And look, they call it justice!
18. “Notwithstanding this I can no longer get so upset about mankind’s bestial cruelty, because they seem to me more like dumb instruments of an invisible power, than doing so from their own will. Wherefore the teacher of Nazareth, wise in many aspects, at His executions prayed to His imagined God Father to forgive His murderers, probably being convinced that human nature could not be so evil; I agree.
19. “But the actual Deity, Satan, the almighty Being, sits snugly in some inaccessible centre, donating its poisonous breath to all cosmic bodies, and then delights in the countless murder spectacles it prepared. It concerns the Deity little that the poor actors are horrendously tormented! Wherefore I want to get to know this shameful Deity, but also want to have the power to ruin it!”
20. Says the ruthless one: “You are completely right, and now we fully suit one another! But hearken, I hear human voices close by! Therefore silence! Perhaps we shall hear something comforting!”
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