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From Hell to Heaven
Chapter 134 - The first comfort of the executed is retaliation. Effect of the strange voice. Want teaches prayer. The healing voice.
1. Says the Count: “What comfort! Who would comfort us? Proper revenge on those who had us murdered for no demonstrable reason, that would be the only comfort for myself and you all! Every other comfort is an abomination. Do you think that a God could compensate me with a thousand heavens for what I have lost: my wife, my honour and my great fortune? I am aware of having had to part with it all eventually anyway, but my name would have stood the test of distant future times like the shining sun. But this way, my name shall be extinguished in the world, and future worldly judges shall gloat over its being recorded with the gallow birds. Hence revenge, inexorable revenge! Away therefore with any feeblest smell of a Deity of any angelic intercession! Our honour must above all be restored upon Earth, and our murderers hellishly put to death! Only then shall we start talking about some reconciliation before the devil’s tribunal!”
2. Says the unscrupulous one: “Dear Mr. Count, you have somewhat over-reacted and are therefore unable to judge the thing with the required calm and merit. Behold, I who surely judge most unscrupulously, think quite differently about our forfeited honour. What is there in being honoured by such shame-world? I say unto you that these worldly oxen could have shown us no greater honour than the way they proceeded with us. Would it be an honour to be honoured by such shameful beasts? By God, such desire be far from my heart forever!
3. “Where would be the name of the noble Blum, had not the brute of a Count Windischgräz paved him the way to immortality with powder and lead? None would have remembered him a long time hence. But as things are, his name shall be preserved for all time as that of a true man of honour. And just so and better still our names shall fare. Am I right?”
4. Says the Count, somewhat calmed down: “Well, this certainly is an excellent thought! Verily, I too solicit no more honour upon the canine world. Indeed, such world-honour would be the ultimate shame for us! You are right – very much so!”
5. Following the Count’s words, voices are again heard, including that of the Count saying to the unscrupulous one: “Well, this time I too heard voices, as if of many people. Not bad! Perhaps we have been spied out here by hostile spirits, and they will catch us and drive us to hell somewhere. They must be close by. What if we make a break for it. Because adversaries lying in wait seem to be right ahead of us.”
6. Says the unscrupulous one: “Here I beg to differ. Whereto should we flee in this eternal night, with hardly enough light for seeing each other? Which of us is familiar with this despairing region? Run a few steps, and we may end up in an infinite abyss. Everything over here seems endless and eternal. Or we might rush right into our enemies’ jaws. Their main formation could even be where we hear no voices, and we could be taken prisoner! Hence let us keep our silence here! Should some corps then approach, or a couple of sneaky spies, we grab them and stuff their mouths.”
7. Says another from the unit: “Sounds alright, if spirits could be killed! This is gainsaid by the fact that we continue to live as if we had never been killed, notwithstanding this being a miserable life second to none. It nevertheless is and remains life.
8. “I reckon we ought to allow ourselves to be taken prisoners and then find common ground with our imagined foes. It actually occurs to me that we cannot have enemies at all; for how should we have made any, not having come upon any soul besides ourselves?”
9. Says the Count: “Friend, you don’t understand! Would there not be in this accursed devil’s world also a great many Austrian imperial souls or spirits – meaning devils! He who was black and yellow in the world shall be so over here, and hence our foe!”
10. Says the other: “Don’t think so, Mr. Count! Black and yellow are only the rich. Let the state make them poor, and they become radicals, like wolves! Just let them lose everything through physical death, leaving them just a miserable naked soul life, and their sense of black-yellow suffers shipwreck,”
11. Says a third: “Now, black-yellow and spirit-world, a likely pair! One merely has to remember why the actual Austrian underlings are black-yellow. Firstly, for fear of the huge numbers of bayonets, canons and gallows. Secondly, the self-interested rich, the army and the government clerks! These are not concerned with people’s good, only their own. And thirdly, many are black-yellow from religious stupidity, because there was once supposed to have been a holy emperor Leopold, and a pious Ferdinand persecuting all Protestants. These latter might still be maintaining themselves over here, but I would say that no trace of the former two would still be found here!”
12. Says the Count: “Well said, this is true! But I am thinking of something quite different: revenge out of dictatorial malice. Haha – what do you say?” Says the third: “Only that, where there is nothing, there revenge and dictatorial ambitions are done for, with all real or imagined rights walking hollow ground!” Responds the Count: “My friend, inner satanic malice is a fiery worm that does not die and whose fire does not go out. We have not of course anything other than our miserable existence over here, but even that can be too much for true malice. Hence one can but assume that it fervently desires to make us even more miserable here by hand and foot. Should we hit upon someone we say: ‘who goes there!’, if not hostile, we take him up. If menacing, we let him go!
13. “But the best will be if we start praying. On Earth I indeed hardly thought anything more stupid than the rosary, and Latin prayers. But here it would nevertheless seem good to pray to some most high divine Being. And my friend who upon Earth was a Franciscan, is sure to know some prayers, such as the Pater Noster, Latin or German, dodgy windish or Hungarian. If it does not help then it wont be able to harm us either. Hence be so good and say a prayer, at least for fun!”
14. Says the unscrupulous Franciscan: “Why not! This would be to kill human reason. Should one want to pray, one has to know to whom, and why! But to pray just to kill time in monumental and sinful stupidity! Because if there is a wise God, then such stupid mumbling will be even more revolting to Him than to us. But if there is no god, then the stupidity would be even more monumental, letting our prayer resound for barest nothingness. Hence I think we should do nothing for the present, but await things calmly. We shall thereby be ready for anything.
15. “But I seem to hear words nearby. Let’s listen, and we shall know what manner of spirits are nearby. Aha! Did you hear? I clearly heard the words: Turn towards Jesus the Crucified – in your hearts, and you shall be helped!”
16. Says the Count, who heard the same words: “Friend, that looks good. With such typical Roman Catholic ‘hail’ and response we shall be helped damned little! What surprised me is that here we were referred only to Jesus, and not also to all the litany of saints as well! Indeed, I would venture to say that this was no ‘only true church’ hail, but maybe a Lutheran or Calvinist!”
17. Says the Franciscan: “For that I give a damn! Any old help will do! Would it really matter whether with mud, blocks of wood or pineapples! If help is really offered us through Jesus, what should prevent us from accepting it?”
18. Says the Count: “Good, my friend, but what makes you so sure that help was actually offered? Could not other similarly desperate groups hang out in our vicinity? Allah is great and Mohammed his prophet wide. And so we too can say God, if there be one, is great and Jesus was His prophet, and more all-embracing than the Caracean prophet! God knows where those targeted by the ‘hail’ are!”
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