I envied them. I was their guest; my kinship love for them was always strong, I appreciated and stared at both of them; yet I envied them. Bitter, angry, angry envy aroused in my heart against them. They were so beautiful, so strong, so smart. When they started talking in cigar smoke after lunch and after dinner, and when the conversation slipped into a debate about little things, nothingness, everyday horrors: two flames of flame flashed before me at once. I felt like they were crashing to the ground at the same time, I was helpless and I could have cried in my anger that the two of them measured would run away from me easily and why they would jump at once – after lunch, with cigar smoke, in the hour of mindlessness – to the areas where I was most alert. I cannot follow them with will and a strained mind. Apor János, the father was fifty-five at the time. Kalman, his son is thirty. The father then-46-he resigned from the ministry: he kicked himself off just like a man bounces off a bored boot. It was around this time that Kálmán wrote his mathematical work, which captivated the Germans. And he did it the same way his father did everything: easily, elegantly, without effort. And they looked like each other. They were beautiful. They are strong. They are fibrous. Rich, rich… I really envied them.
Sometimes I shouted angrily to myself:
– Why am I not like that? After all, their blood is their blood. I’m Apor too. Our grandfather is common. Why do I have to wander when they can fly? Why do I have to bitterly study, work, stand, fight for every step I can take forward?… And why am I poor when they are rich?
I almost hated my mother and grandmother. Their blood, the quiet, sluggish, civilian blood, corrupted the Apor blood in me. I am my slow-thinking, fat-leaning, short-nosed, brown, and most miserably medium-sized, as long as they are flashing-minded, slender, tall, with trembling delicate noses and blondes, blondes…
… Slowly I got used to their superiority, -47-to their superiority. I calmed down. And then I had a good time with them. Their garden, their entire large estate was beautiful and their house was princely comfortable. I read, worked and the summer went quietly and beautifully.
On a hell of a hot August afternoon, I was walking in the garden. János Apor came with a red face burning from the stables:
“What’s wrong, my brother John?” I asked him.
In a trembling throaty voice he replied:
– I rode out in Saffia. The bastard was grumpy. I brought it home, tied it up in the barn and punched it until it bathed in blood.
I looked at him. Her eyes were blurred, anger glistened on her buttocks, and her pupil widened
– Well, my brother John…
I shut up. I wanted to say that a good horse shouldn’t be treated like that, but he looked at me like I was silent. I asked in fright:
“Is something wrong, Brother John?”
He stroked his forehead with his thin white fingers and said,
– My head hurts.
Then he left. I knew he had excruciating headaches in the last days of his ministry. His nervousness made me think so enraged and I didn’t care.-48-
The next afternoon I heard a rifle bang from the orchard. I went there. John Apor stood there with a smoking rifle in his hand and when he saw it, he gestured to a bush with a smile.
– Look there.
I looked there. A peasant child was lying in the bush, blood was pouring from his thigh. A bunch of apples and pears lay beside him; apparently to steal came the unfortunate.
– But my brother John…
– Listen. I’ll show these pigs.
Kálmán came there.
“Look,” I told him indignantly.
Kálmán immediately understood, shrugged, then looked at the hoeing peasant boy and began to smile.
… This August was terrible. The heat pounded the man’s head with hipster firecrackers. The breath was also heavy and one could feel how stroke sick his brain from the heat. It was a crazy, sunburning, murderous August.
At noon I sat with János Apor. We both sat lazily and listened. That’s when the housekeeper came in. With a big detour, gently and discreetly, humbly, caring, terrible-49-and indignantly stated that trouble had taken place at the house. Marie, one of the maids, had a little daughter that night. Something like a forestman, please go to me
The face of John Apor blushed. He motioned for the woman to leave. Then he will take action. When we were left alone, he listened.
“What are you doing with the girl, my brother John?” – I asked.
He turned to me. His face was red, his nose trembled and he said hoarsely,
– Let’s trample the kid.
I looked at him in amazement. I wanted to joke about it, and then I seriously wanted to remind him of his liberal principles, but I couldn’t. He said hoarsely again, his throat growling:
– Let’s break it up.
I looked into his eyes and his heart stopped beating with disgust. His eyes were overcast, but that overturn was broken by an angry, frantic, stubborn flame. I couldn’t move in horror; but clearly, firmly, surely I felt, saw, I knew he was crazy. Frantic. Fool. Dangerous. Raging. Crazy…
I was cold with terror, my body was icy and my teeth were chattering. I got up. I wanted to escape. My legs were shaking and I barely knew -50-to pull myself out of the room in slow steps. I heard János Apor rushing up and down the room with big steps inside me; I galloped down the stairs.
I was looking for Kalman. He was put off for a minute by this horrible, rude task: to tell the boy that his father was crazy. I thought it would be best to pack up and leave right away. But I said to myself that this is cowardice; it is my duty to warn Kálmán.
I met him at the gate. Warming up, warming up, he came from the stubble floating in the glowing sunlight. I stopped him. I hesitated a little more, but then I strengthened my heart.
First of all, I thought I’d tell him today’s case.
Calmly, quietly, gently, and tenderly to measure her sensitivity, I told her. He listened nervously. And when I get there:
-… your sweet father said this again; tread the puppy …
Then Kálmán turned to me, trembling his fists, trembling his thin, delicate nose, his eyes wide and he said hoarsely:
– You’re right… Let’s trample… Let’s trample that kid.
I looked into his eyes and my heart stopped again -51-beating. His eyes rolled over and this rollover was the same that veiled his father’s eyes. And on this rollover, a flag, an angry, stubborn flame fluttered.
I leaned against the wall so I wouldn’t collapse; I stared at him that way. How he looked like his father…
He turned and left. My mind was tired of terror, but I could see everything clearly. The father was still strong. He endured the burdens of wonderful sophistication, fire-breeding, flame spirit for fifty-five years. Then it was huge. But the boy was already his son. Even more sophisticated, even superior… He only lasted for thirty years.
And as I stood clinging to the gate with a trembling body and broke my frightened trembling mind, what should I do, who should I tell, what doctor should I call, where should I take them, as I was horrified at what would happen if they stayed here together and someday the disaster would break out once, she started, trembling, my eyes flooded with tears of gratitude. Infinitely large, tender, warm gratitude for the quiet, sluggish, civil blood of my mother and grandmother, which gave me the slow thinking, the willingness to fatten, the whole blessed, quiet, peaceful, and sure mediocrity.