The three of them sat together at the end of a long set table in one of the downstairs dining rooms of the «Queen of England» inn, where the Speaker of the House of Representatives used to hold the Feast of Representatives.
There were twelve plates on the table, with proper cutlery, glasses, a printed order, and tea roses tucked into thin glasses. Tablecloths bent into melon-shaped cloves on plates.
Twelve place settings on the table and only three sitting at the end of the table? The explanation for this is that it has been two hours, in our normal circumstances, an outdated position for lunch time. They are still waiting for someone, or someone, but in the meantime they will be a «domitorium» for a good plum brandy from Szémém, which will be printed with a miskolc ringed chip. It just gives your appetite a spur.
He who sits at the table is a distinguished lawyer in the capital; his head is quite bald, barely tilting behind his ears a condor pigeon, whose habit of never getting gray stubbornly remains chestnut-colored, which forms some contradiction with the curled mustache, which is soot-colored. This is free: paint the mustache to a soot color. Beards, hair, eyebrows can all follow your free will for variety; but the mustache is ours, we command it. Otherwise, the beard is not his own-157-Lord, it also has a law, the razor: it is harvested. The face is red and smooth. He seems to be well fed. Only the eyes betray advanced age. The eyelids are swollen, and the eyesight requires two glasses, one is the nose clip, which is necessary for reading, and the other is the ear-holding papal eye, which can be seen from afar; room it is worn pushed to the forehead.
A simple diamond-buttoned brooch is skewered into a white necklace tied to a sailor’s loop; the vest has a yellow pique with a heavy gold chain hanging from its side pocket, the end of which is pulled down by a corny hand with a silver press, a silver St. George’s collar, gold pliers, a steel cigar tip and a small aneroid. The sleeves of the yellow-red glove peek out of the side pocket of the smoking jacket with the clipped back.
This is the host who fills the cups.
The other two are invited guests.
The guest, sitting from the right, is a short, stocky man in a gray, short jacket with a lynx fur collar. The sock has a silver button and goes on a cord: but now it is buttoned out, because it is so advisable before lunch; the pre-embossed part of the body requires this, which is not quite accurately covered by the Kalotaszeg sewn vest, so that the holes of the next buckled strap can be counted below it. (They will reproduce later.) Of course, he wears braided Hungarian trousers and button-up spur boots. Her shirt collar and shirt are checkered pink canvas with floral embroidery. His face and forehead are wide, corduroy burning from the sun, which is strongly struck by the tangled gray hair of the gunnar, and the yellow-gray beard and the pale mustache. The expression on his face is angrily cheerful.
The second guest, sitting from the left, is facing us; but we do not know him better from the beginning either, for he rushes to always fold his face down, as if looking for something on the ground; he rests his forehead in the palm of his hand, and opens his mouth only when he knocks out the cup.-158-His facial features were hard, turned skin, wearing a hairy beard called a beggar’s beard, trimmed to a short beard; so is her hair, short, thick, overgrown from front to forehead, from back to neck. Black silk tie rolled up to the Adam’s cob; wearing a glossy black jacket buttoned all the way.
“It was nice of you to come to my invitation, boys!” (boys!) said the housekeeper, tangling his heap with the guests of the two strands.
– How come we came? said the green beard. In whom a drop of Hungarian blood is bubbling, he just comes up for the millennial exhibition; though a farmer like myself has the most urgent thing to do back home. They’re typing rapeseed now. Well, but my son is home, he sees the thing afterwards, I don’t have to worry about it.
“Did you make your son a farmer?” Very good.
– Peter Höher! My son is a graduate man.
– What kind of degree do you have?
– Well, a mechanical degree. I trained him to be a mechanic. That way I can trust the whole economy.
Then the beggar-bearded spoke to this.
“Well, my son helped me to come up from this beautiful day in Bergengócia to the beautiful capital.”
– Is your son a folk teacher?
– One up. That’s pastor. Chaplain with the best endowment in his judging place to Bakony. They love it very much. If the old man is bodied, even though he is already close to him, he will be rebuked as a priest. Now, in my absence, he is serving for me. The Scythians, though, now have a vacation; but believers require daily chanting.
“Well, you just came,” the lawyer said, reaching out to his guests at the same time.
“Well, we could be more,” the tenant remarked in resentment.
– You can see I spread it to twelve. Twelve of us were good buddies who, fifty years before, doing justice in college, gave each other a password.-159-we added that fifty years later, on this farewell day, we would meet here at the «Queen of England» inn. But I even intimidated you in a separate letter; if you might have forgotten the bet.
– And only two of us were received at the invitation.
“I’m waiting for a fourth buddy who can arrive, the absence of a week is well-founded, and I’ll prove myself the eighth.” But do we still agree not to talk about sad things before lunch?
– Smart speech! It worsens the appetite.
“From soup to stuffed cabbage, we shouldn’t carry anything other than our student adventures.
– Will it be stuffed cabbage? But even then we drop one on the sieve.
“Then, at the deer, we can already talk about our secular wear.” We were there too.
“Deer,” the master never said; I only know this from the picture book.
“Then we can move on to the dorong donuts for the post-war bragging.”
“If I’m confronted with a dorong donut, I’m not talking about the Prophet of Olmücs,” the tenant discouraged.
“Then we leave the rest after the black coffee: don’t count how many we have until then.”
– The census is not good, said the rector that the student says: «rex David populum numeravit et perdavit».
The head waiter and the picnic intervened. Amaz brought a letter on a silver tray, lifting a basket with a lid by its ear.
The lawyer opened the letter, ran through it.
– Here’s ni! That’s not coming now. In vain, the schneider is just a schneider! You know, the Friczó. When we failed, he cut his law degree under the bed, opened a tailor’s workshop. He stepped well beside him. He writes that-160-you can’t come: because you have to create twenty-four bander suits in forty-eight hours. Honor, patriotism, and the rest. He apologizes for a thousand million and sends six palaces of thirty-fourth Tokaj aszú instead. Such a people is this schneider!
– Viva! The more we get! the tenant rejoiced.
He shook the head of the folk teacher.
“And he was the best mathematician among us, fifty years ago.”
– Not «but», but «because», the fiscal rectified. He who works with a roach in mathematics goes more than he who calculates with astrolabium. Friczó is a three-storey Hausherr.
Then he issued the daily order to the head waiter.
– We’re not waiting for anyone anymore. Serve right away.
The head waiter politely asked the guest gentlemen what kind of soup they would give priority to: make a choice, have crab soup, have bean soup with pork claws, and then potage imperial.
The tenant’s eyes widened.
“Olez!” (Alles!) He shouted, he swallowed all three, they didn’t get together inside.
But the folk teacher said, «quidquid agis, prudenter agas et respice finem» (whatever you do, do it wisely and think about the end.) I also get bean soup at home three times a week; i can’t eat crab soup because it will make my back itchy. Let’s see the imperialist. It was perhaps made of «fritillaria imperialis».
And during soup, a smart person does not speak.
The soup is followed by a small glass of old sherry. They’re drinking.
– Are you boys? starts the fiscal, didn’t they resent me for inviting you here to the restaurant and not to my own house? since i am a widow, i have not kept a kitchen at home.
“It’s a great comfort,” the tenant said.-161-
“Well, I can’t do for my son who can’t have lunch at home.”
– Maybe because of your office?
– But: because of his office.
The two guests looked at each other. None of them knew this office.
– Where? the rector inquired.
– In the orphan.
That was already understandable.
– A well-made young man? the rector continued to inquire.
– Oh, he’s done every day. He’s a great boy. He has only three flaws: he didn’t understand the card, he didn’t understand drinking, and he didn’t understand women.
– That’s very good.
“But he still loves all three.” Then I myself am forced to walk wherever my son goes.
“To protect your transgressions?”
– To correct them. What he loses on the card I have to regain; where she giveth wine, I must stand, and when she is mad at a goddess of the podium, I must knock it out of her hand, lest my son may marry her.
– Well, that’s a funny condition! said the tenant.
– It’s very funny. I’m already negotiating with a skribler to make an operetta or a novel out of my state that the audience hasn’t even piped: “Dad and rival!”
– Well, just don’t brag! Never do it yourself! We know it from ancient times. You were a famous squadron guard when you were a lawyer. You turned the heads of every girl. Do you know when we gave an amateur performance for the dormitory library?-162-
– How could I know? «Love and Champagne». Buddy Jancsi played the role of the windmill «Wind».
Jancsi’s buddy was the rector. He was terribly ashamed of this recollection. That he was ever on stage, even as a windmill! If the Eötvös Society ever found out!
“And you gave the knowledgeable professor,” said the fiscal officer, pushing the tenant to the side.
– A knowledgeable professor? the waist man repeated again, examining himself from the opposite mirror, and smoothed all the way through the curvature of his stature, beautifully atoned for: have I not been ashamed of this: you, the most honest part of the human body! But you were the fiery lover!
– Well, I had a reason to fire! Because our prima donna, the charming bride, was our schoolmate herself: the beautiful Pista child. At that time, even real ladies did not undertake amateur performances: all female roles were played by boys. The old duena was given by the Laczi, (later the captain of the red-bellied patriotic battalion victorious in fifteen battles), and the lovable prima donna was our beautiful Pista. She was such a beautiful figure in the woman’s dress that a svalizsér officer fell in love with her and offered her a hand. How many bouquets were thrown at your feet!
– That’s right! as evidenced by the rector. I already remember him. Oh, but he was a handsome boy. I didn’t see it prettier. Because then he fought with us too. But I haven’t heard any news since. Is he still alive?
“He’s alive,” the lawyer replied.
– Leave this after the black coffee.
For the second glass of toast (after the renaissance salmon), the host himself started the word reminder.
“Hey, boys, when was the last time we sipped our glasses?”
“Forty-seven years,” the teacher replied.-163-
The tenant then calculated: «49 out of 96: stay 47. Accurate! It is not in vain that my coma teaches algebra every day. Are you a cartridge? »
(For him, a poorer buddy than him was a “comedian,” a richer “patron.”)
– There at the Pankota mill! do you know said the lawyer.
“Where we put the gun,” said the tenant.
“It was a bitter glass, our tears fell into it.”
“I know it was sour: pickled wine.”
Amaz was the memory of the poetic master, this was the winemaking farmer.
“I wouldn’t have thought we’d ever see each other then.”
– And this beautiful Hungarian homeland: so that we can see now.
– I always trusted in the God of the Hungarians.
“Hey, but we would have negotiated cheaply with the Germans then.”
– Let’s say it’s expensive.
– At all costs.
– When I was taken to the military tribunal.
– I was drafted as an interlocutor.
– I was taken to the log cabin.
“My problem was that I was a judge of war: I was sentenced to prison for a long time.”
“My problem was that I was healthy: I changed from a lieutenant to an exchange couple, they marched me to Talalia.”
“And for me, the wound I got in the spring recurred on my leg, the swaps wanted to cut it down.”
Fortunately, they brought the roast beef. As a gentleman’s custom, two kinds were sliced in the same alpacca-silver bowl: one was still dripping with blood, the other was honestly baked.
– I’m sorry I can’t wrestle with this raw sheep! -164-the tenant protested. Because it’s even more annoying when you insert a fork.
The lawyer, on the other hand, had that taste in his mouth.