By Frederick Karinthy

On The Train

Man (sitting near open window, grasps hat with both hands): Oh!

Friend: Whatís the matter?

Man: The wind nearly blew my hat off.

Friend: Itís a good thing you caught it in time.

Man: I should say so. I paid a pound for it only yesterday.

Friend: Thatís just what I mean. It wouldíve been a pity if itíd been blown out of the window.

Man: My hat? My new hat? And what if it had been blown out?

Friend: I mean to say, then youíd have had to buy another one.

Man (angry): Why would I have had to buy another one?

Friend: Well, you canít jump after it from a fast train.

Man: I canít jump after it? Of course not. And I wouldnít jump after it.

Friend: Thatís just what I mean. Youíd have lost your hat.

Man: My hat? No fear!

Friend: Well, would you have stopped the train?

Man (angry): Of course Iíd have stopped the train.

Friend (laughing): Theyíd have fined you.


Man: What! Theyíd have fined me for wanting my hat back?

Friend: Surely you donít think theyíd let you stop the train just to pick up your hat?

Man (shouting): What the devil do you mean? Iím entitled to pick up my hat. I canít jump off the train, and so Iíve a right to stop the train.

Thin Man: Youíre right, sir. Youíre entitled to stop it.

Fat Man: Nonsense. Iím in a hurry to get to Budapest, and I canít have anyone stop the train on the way.

Man (to Fat Man): Really? Just because youíre in a hurry to get to Budapest I mustnít pick up my hat?

Fat Man: You can eat your hat for all I care, but Iím not going to have anyone stop this train before we reach Budapest. Iím travelling express because I must be in Budapest by a certain time.

Man (purple with rage): So I can eat my hat, can I? Let me tell you thisóI paid a pound for this hat only yesterday; will



you buy me another one if itís blown out of the window?

Fat Man: The hell I will.

Man: Then the train must stop.

Fat Man: It wonít stop. I paid for my ticket and Iíve a right to be conveyed in the quickest time. It wonít stop.

Man: And I paid for my new hat. It will stop.

Fat Man (beside himself): It wonít stop! I must be at the specialistís by five oíclockó

Man: And I must go to the Ministry. I canít go without a hat, in case I meet someone I must raise my hat to. Then you must pay for my hat!

Fat Man: Ridiculous!

Man (mad with rage): What?


Youíre not going to pay for it? Iíll show you. (Reaches for communication cord.)

Fat Man: If you pull that cord Iíll brain you.

Others: Heís right . . . . The gentlemanís right . . . .

Still Others: He canít do that. . . . Disgraceful. . . .

Man: How dare you threaten me? (Seizes cord.)

Fat Man throws himself upon him; they struggle; others join in; train reaches Budapest; all the passengers join in the fight; the mounted police are called out; the mob storms the railway station; martial law is proclaimed; Russia declares war on Japan.


The contributors to this issue


Frederick Karinthy

Hungaryís outstanding humorous journalist. He has written a funny article for his paper every day for 25 years. Recently underwent a serious operation for tumour, wrote an uproariously funny book about it while in bed and called himself ďthe first Hungarian tumourist.Ē

LILLIPUT appears on the 15th of each month


SOURCE: Karinthy, Frederick [Frigyes]. “On The Train” [translator unknown], Lilliput, vol. 3, no. 2, issue no. 14, August 1938, pp. 218-219 + 240 (contributors to this issue).

Note: This translation may well have been adapted from the translation by Lawrence Wolfe in the volume Soliloquies in the Bath, illustrated by Franz Katzer (London; Edinburgh; Glasgow: William Hodge and Company Limited, 1937), pp. 215-219. The two published versions are very close but there are some elisions and additions here, and in Soliloquies Japan declares war on China. Considering political developments, there may have been a reason for this change.

Frigyes & Ferenc Karinthy in English

Frigyes (Frederiko) Karinthy (1887-1938) en Esperanto

Futurology, Science Fiction, Utopia, and Alienation
in the Work of Imre Madách, György Lukács, and Other Hungarian Writers:
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