. . . It was at the time when the forests along the river Ráb in Galicia saw Austrian troops fleeing across that stream. And down in Serbia, one Austrian division after another was getting a long-deserved kick in the seat of the pants. Then, out of the blue, the Austrian Ministry of Military Affairs remembered
vejk, just in time to help the monarchy out of its current mess.
vejk just happened to be laying in bed, stricken again with rheumatism, when they brought him the notice that he was to appear in one week for a medical exam at Stelecký Island.
When he received the news, Mrs. Mller was making coffee for him in the kitchen.
"Mrs. Mller," vejk’s called quietly from the bedroom. "Mrs. Mller, come here for a moment."
When the cleaning woman came to his bed, vejk addressed her in a quiet but mysteriously festive tone:
"Sit down, Mrs. Mller."
When Mrs. Mller did sit down, vejk suddenly rose up in his bed and declared:
"I’m going in the military!"
"Virgin Mary!" exclaimed Mrs. Mller. "What will you do there?"
"Fight," answered vejk with a grave voice. "Austria is in big trouble. The enemy is already creeping up on Krakow and down under into Hungary. We’re getting threshed like rye wherever we look. And, that’s why they’re calling me in for military service. Remember how yesterday I was reading to you from the paper that the dear motherland has been surrounded by a bunting of very dark clouds?"
"But you can’t even move."
"That doesn’t matter, Mrs. Mller. I will ride to military service in a wheelchair. The confectioner around the corner, he has such a wheelchair. He used to push his nasty, paralyzed, old grandfather out into the fresh air with it."
"You, Mrs. Mller, will push me into the military service in that wheelchair!"
Mrs. Mller started crying:
"Oh Mr. vejk! Shouldn’t I just run and get you a doctor?"
"Don’t go anywhere, Mrs. Mller. I am, except for my legs, absolutely healthy cannon fodder. And, at a time when it is grim for Austria, every cripple must be at his post. Be calm and keep making the coffee."
Though upset, Mrs. Mller continued to strain the coffee in the kitchen. Meanwhile, the good soldier vejk started singing from his bed: . . .