THE LAST DAYS OF MANKIND SCENE 42 43 AND 43A
Park gate in front of a villa. Behind it a party of aristocratic men and women play tennis. In a chair, muffled with blankets, Franz Josef. Soldiers march past, grim-faced, for the Somme. Their faces show they may be going to their death. Karl Franz Josef, imperial heir, walks to the gate, smiling.
ARCHDUKE KARL FRANZ JOSEF (at the park gate, in tennis clothes, waving at them with his racket): Play up, lads, and play the game!
War ministry. A room looking out onto Ringstrasse. A captain is sitting behind an office desk. In front of him, a civilian in deep distress.
HQ OFFICER 4: I don’t know what else you want? In a case like this it is simply impossible to provide any evidence. How on earth are we supposed to know whether someone’s dead or wounded or a prisoner? Perhaps you should try the Italian War Ministry, my friend! You see! Impossible! What else can we do? It is quite unbelievable what some people demand of us!
CIVILIAN: Yes – but – my son -
HQ OFFICER 4: I can tell you no more. And it is almost three o'clock. Office hours are over. Listen, let me say this, off the record: If you haven't had word from your son in six weeks, I’d suggest you just assume he's dead.
CIVILIAN: Yes – but -
HQ OFFICER 4: You understand this is happening, thousands of times, all day every day! We're at war! Every citizen has to play his part. Look at us, here! Doing our job! You do know – of course - there can be no higher ambition, no greater reward for a soldier than to die for his fatherland.
(The civilian bows and leaves.)