Please note the date is approximate
The Prince, next morning, sent the gamekeeper in to the station at S to meet the wounded and take our lot out to K . The maids all requested him to bring young and dashing cavalrymen if possible handsome in any case, no infantrymen. What eventually did arrive out to us was a miserable dejected-looking lot of infantrymen, Hungarians, Slovenes from Carniola, and one Bosniak.
The men were all badly wounded so badly that the doctor, when he saw them, sent the Princess away, saying
“No, Highness ; this is not work for any one with weak nerves. Send me the English lady she is more likely to stand this sort of thing.”
The doctor was the leader of the pan- Slav movement in the district, and I am convinced that he put me in charge of the hospital simply because of the opportunity this gave him of talking war to one who shared his views and sympathies.
“I assure you, Fraulein,” he said, as he dressed a shrapnel-wound in a man’s shoulder, “I assure you, whichever way it goes, it’s the end of Austria : if the Central Powers win we become simply a province of Germany: if they lose, it’s the disintegration of Austria. A country composed, as Austria is, of so many races, each one more discontented than the other, must not risk going to war. It’s all the fault of that puffed-up, vain-glorious peacock in Berlin ! It was he sent that ultimatum to Serbia. Na, Serbia is the hardest nut they’ve ever had to crack. My son, who is in the artillery, fighting against the Serbs, says that even if we could concentrate all our forces against Serbia, we should still find it difficult down there. He says the Serbs are simply capital fellows, and their officers are the best in Europe. Cue must really say it serves William right. He’s getting it hot everywhere. Of course you know that Paris is safe now?”
The Hungarians boasted of being alive at all after so many hardships. “But that’s Hungarian,” they would say proudly. “A Hungarian can go for three days without any food at all and still laugh and sing. It’s our spirit that does it. You should see the Russians run when we charge. Once we’ve gone four days on potatoes which we ate raw from the fields as we went along, then we went into the trenches and made an attack after being sixteen hours again without food. We made the Russians run too at least, some of them not all ; oh, no ! not all,” the Hungarian said, shaking his head.
“They fight well, then ? ”
“Like devils absolutely like devils. God! you can’t shoot them down ; and these fellows” fiercely pointing to the Slovenes “won’t. try. They won’t aim ! And if we Hungarians once shoot down a Russian twelve spring into his place like mushrooms out of the ground.”
I asked what would happen if the Russians would win.
The Hungarian was indifferent to issues. ” It really makes no difference who wins. The Russians aren’t bad, and they’re awfully good to their prisoners. Lucky chaps who get taken prisoner war’s over for them ! If the Russians win we’ll be just as well off at home as we were before, so what does it matter ? I wonder why we are fighting against Russia ? The Serbs killed the Archduke but Russia ? Anyhow, nothing matters if we were only back in our homes again. Still it’s no use getting depressed like that Bosniak there. He’s like a dead man; and what’s the sense of being a dead man when you’re still alive ? ”
The poor Bosniak was really very miserable. He was the only one of his race in the hospital where nobody could speak Bosnian.
The (Slovenes) also were disappointed that their wounds healed so quickly, which meant their speedy return to Galicia.
“It’s bad enough to have to fight at all,” they said, “but to have to fight against one’s own race is a terrible thing. If only our officers would be decent ; but they shoot us from behind if they think we’re slack with the Russians. There are awful things happening in Galicia, and it’s not good to be a Slav in Austria.”
One Slovene told us very proudly that his brother, who had been in America, had taught him some English, and on our inquiring what it was, he reeled off
“Son of a bitch, daughter of hell, damnation, glory Hallelujah ! ” On seeing our blank faces, he asked, ” Isn’t it English ? My brother said it was real English.” We assured him that his brother was a master of English, but cautioned him that in future it would be wise if his brother explained the meaning of what he taught him.