The General has invited his former childhood friend to dine with him at his castle exactly as they did 41 years ago, at their last meeting. The purpose is to reveal the truth about their dead friendship. Worked for me both as a novel of suspense and a haunting meditation on time past. First published in Budapest in 1942 - it is amazing it has taken so long to be translated into English.
The Officer of the Guards bent forward as he stared at his son's friend; he seemed to be seeing him for the first time. That evening, when he and his son were alone in the smoking room, he said, 'Konrad will never make a true soldier.'
'Why?' asked his son, shocked.
But he knew his father was right. The Officer of the Guards shrugged his shoulders, lit a cigar, stretched his legs towards the fireplace, and watched the curl of smoke. And then calmly, with the assurance of an expert, he said, 'Because he is a different kind of man.'
His father was long dead and many years had passed before the General understood what he had meant.