SERVANT: If you please, Privy Counsellor – there’s one of them here.
NEPALLEK: One of what?
SERVANT (embarrassed): From the Archduke’s – the other side.
NEPALLEK (imperiously): Now, now, now, there is no other side! Those days are over! But didn’t I tell you that if any of them came here –
SERVANT: I’m sorry – he says it’s only a question.
NEPALLEK: I’d love to know what’s left to question, bring him in.
(An old valet of the deceased Archduke appears.)
NEPALLEK (hisses at him from behind): What do you want?
VALET: At your service, gracious Privy Counsellor, sir – what it is – I know that in this respect – under the circumstances – I mean unless –
NEPALLEK: I want to know what you’re after!
VALET: Regarding the misfortune, the great misfortune, gracious Privy Counsellor, sir – since I did serve once under his Imperial Highness – of such blesséd name – under Archduke Ludwig, God rest his soul –
NEPALLEK: So, in a word, you’re an out-of-work valet – well, my friend, you can put any idea I’m giving away jobs right out of your head!
VALET (tearful): No, Privy Counsellor – no, Privy Counsellor, sir –
NEPALLEK: Come on, you’re trying to push your luck, aren’t you?
VALET: No, Privy Counsellor, sir – I wouldn’t dream – I wouldn’t –
NEPALLEK: Then what else is it you want?
VALET: It’s not that – it’s true he was a demanding master – very – and very strict – but – such a fine prince – and – you see –
NEPALLEK: My dear fellow, don’t give me any more of your cock-and-bull stories – just tell me what you want!
VALET: I want nothing, Privy Counsellor, nothing, nothing at all – only to speak – only to say – a few words – before his remains, one last time –
NEPALLEK (voice raised): Absurd! Do you think I’m in the business of making appointments on behalf of a corpse? No, is that understood!
(Alerted by noise, Prince Montenuovo rushes in, distorted with rage.)
MONTENUOVO: What’s this? Ah, there’s one of them now! Clear off! None of you will find a position here, so scram, now, and double quick!
VALET (with great astonishment): I – have never been – my God – but I am at your service, of course, Your gracious Highness – (Off.)
MONTENUOVO: Privy Counsellor, this isn’t some refuge for the homeless – I have seized the initiative now, and – I will have order!
NEPALLEK: Your Highness can rely on it – it won’t happen again, the man only wanted –
MONTENUOVO: It’s all the same to me. Not a single one of those mugs from the Belvedere Palace gets a job here – Right, how many invitations have been sent out now?
MONTENUOVO: What? What are you talking about?
NEPALLEK: Oh, excuse me, a thousand pardons, I was thinking about tomorrow evening, the party afterwards. For the funeral, just twenty-six.
MONTENUOVO: Well, you can strike out six more! (Off.)
NEPALLEK: Yes, sir! (Sits at the desk again.)
Prince Weikersheim, close behind him the servant.
SERVANT: Please your Highness, I have the strictest orders –
PRINCE WEIKERSHEIM: You’ve got what? Orders? What do you mean? Does one have to make an appointment? (Servant off. Nepallek stays at his desk, without looking up. The prince, after a moment.) You! (After another pause, louder) You! What – is going on here? (Shouting) Stand up!
NEPALLEK (turns his head casually): Good afternoon, good afternoon.
PRINCE WEIKERSHEIM (after a moment of speechless astonishment): What – is this? So – prompt! (With emphasis) Do you know who I am?
NEPALLEK: Well, what is it then, what is it then, and of course I know, you are the recently princified Baron Bronn von Weikersheim.
PRINCE WEIKERSHEIM: And you are – your servant is your better!
(Off, slamming the door.)
NEPALLEK: (Convulsive laughter. The telephone rings): Your most obedient servant, Excellency, immediately – (Montenuovo sticks his head in, instantly Nepallek swivels round) At your command, Your Highness –
 Karl Ludwig (1833-1896), younger brother of Franz Josef; after Archduke Rudolf’s death he became heir to the throne but renounced his claim in favour of his son, Franz Ferdinand.
 Prince Alfred Montenuovo, prince (1854-1927), Lord Steward of the Royal Household, a powerful influence on Franz Josef, a bitter and long-standing opponent of Franz Ferdinand.
 Palace built by Prince Eugen of Savoy in Vienna, early 18th century. It housed the extensive imperial art collection, and had also been Archduke’s Franz Ferdinand’s home in Vienna.
 Karl Ernst Bronn von Weikersheim, prince (1862-1925), soldier, statesman, ennobled by Franz Josef in 1911, close friend and supporter of Franz Ferdinand, at one time his adjutant, destined for high office in a new regime; the job he would probably have got is, of course, the one now occupied by Nepallek. Admiral Horthy (Regent of Hungary 1920-1944) describes him, when they were both aides-de-camp to Franz-Josef, as living ‘a singularly happy life’ (at least until 1914). Weikersheim had an English grandmother; his father had married a commoner (a butcher’s daughter apparently). Ernst von Bülow, one-time German imperial chancellor, says with an undisguised sneer: ‘His father married a woman whose cradle, as the Socialist ditty prettily puts it, “had stood in the poor man’s house”…’ He was decidedly anti-German; von Bülow also calls him ‘exaggeratedly yellow-black’ (i.e. pro-Austria-Hungary)’.