They Were Found Wanting [Es hijjával találtattál]

BÁNFFY Miklós



They Were Found Wanting [Es hijjával találtattál] Book Two of The Writing on the Wall opens a couple of years after the end of Book One, with Balint Abady back in Budapest and heavily involved in his work as an independent member of parliament. His cousin Laszlo Gyeroffy has now run through all his money and has been ruined by a crooked lawyer. He is drinking heavily and leading a dissipated life in Transylvania. Balint and Adrienne meet by chance and start up their affair again. A divorce for Adrienne from her unstable husband now seems possible. Balint continues to take an interest in the plight of the mountain people. He also continues his social life, accepting an invitation to a grand shooting party at Jablanka in northern Hungary (an area that now belongs to Slovakia). This section of the novel offers a vivid picture of life on a great country estate.

Hungarian politics and love affairs continue to dominate, against a background of world affairs in which the British eet is expanding. Still determined to marry Adrienne, Balint breaks with his disapproving mother. But her tentative plans for a divorce are thrown into disarray when a doctor warns her that a severe emotional shock could tip her husband over into madness. This crisis in Balint and Adrienne’s relationship coincides with a deterioration in the situation in Europe, which becomes increasingly menacing. VMI

Sample


How different life was here, he thought, from that in Transylvania, where everything was on such a tiny scale. All that mattered there were only little quarrels, minor disagreements. There it was important to know what would happen to Beno Balogh-Peter, the former chief notary of Monostor who had collaborated with the Bodyguard government and tried to install the nominated prefect. This was the sort of issue for which his native Transylvanian brothers started blood-feuds and hates that endured for generations, while all the time, in the real world outside, the threads were being spun of some giant tragedy to be enacted in the unpredictable future. On the other hand, here at Jablanka, in North Nyitra, these people were living in the centre of world happenings, aware of what was going on around them, so familiar with it all that they need discuss only the consequences, not the facts that led to them. And all this lightly, even politely.

While thinking about this Balint was watching Antal Szent-Gyorgyi, who stood, upright and slender, in front of the stuccoed replace. Far above him, set in the plaster-work, was a life-sized portrait of his great-grandfather, he who had been palatine to Queen Maria-Theresa. He had been painted with the insignia of the Order of the Golden Fleece hanging from a heavy gold chain and was wearing a heavily embroidered cloak of purple velvet and on his head was a powdered wig. And suddenly Balint saw that it was the same man who stood there today, in front of the marble and stucco replace, dressed in a velvet smoking-jacket, just like any of the other men in the room, but, unlike the others, with the tiny emblem of the Golden Fleece on his watch-chain and that worn not out of pride or vanity but because it was the rule of the Order that it was always to be worn no matter what the dress or occasion. There, below the painted portrait, was the same narrow face, the same proud self-sufcient glance. 160-1