๐น๐‘œ๐“Š๐“ƒ๐’น End of Story

โ€œIn court I once met a person I had never seen before,โ€ the prince said, โ€œbut who reminded me of all the people I have ever seen. He said he had something magnificent in store for his head. But I must not think he was going to cut it off himself. He put a knife into my hand and said: Cut my head off, my dear fellow. I have long waited for you to turn up to cut off my head. For I have something magnificent in store for my head. Donโ€™t be afraid, this eccentric said, I have calculated everything in advance. It cannot go wrong. Here, cut! He gave me three minutes. Here, he said, this is the spot where I want my head cut off. Iโ€™ll continue to stand, because it seems to me thoroughly undignified to have your head cut off while lying down, let alone sitting. I wonโ€™t embarrass you! the stranger said. Incidentally, the knife is manufactured by the Christofle Company, he said. And I actually saw the name Christofle engraved on the knife. I seized the head and cut it off. I was quite astonished at how easy it was. The head then said: You see, you had no difficulty cutting off my head. But then I see that I havenโ€™t cut off his head, and the stranger said: You didnโ€™t seriously imagine you could cut off my head, did you? Or did you? Let us go on, the stranger said. He was my cousin. Actually,โ€ the prince said, โ€œI did not dream the story to its end. That was a pity.โ€

โ€” fromย Gargoyles by Thomas Bernhard, translated by Richard and Clara Winston

1967 (1970)