105 Greatest Living Authors Present the World's Best Stories, Humor, Drama, Biography, History, Essays, Poetry

By Whit Burnett | Go to book overview

GRAHAM GREENE

A literary craftsman whose novels have brought him a distinguished
reputation, Graham Greene selected for this volume one of the nine-
teen short stories which, over a period of years, he has written be-
tween his longer works. The short story, Mr. Greene concedes, "is an
exacting form. . . ." In this odd story of a 10-year-old who would
not betray the Host even for a bribe of his heart's desire is a char-
acteristic example of Mr. Greene's style and particularly of his in-
sight into the mind and fears of a child.


The Hint of an Explanation

A LONG TRAIN JOURNEY on a late December evening, in this new version of peace, is a dreary experience. I suppose that my fellow traveller and I could consider ourselves lucky to have a compartment to ourselves, even though the heating apparatus was not working, even though the lights went out entirely in the frequent Pennine tunnels and were too dim anyway for us to read our books without straining our eyes, and though there was no restaurant car to give at least a change of scene. It was when we were trying simultaneously to chew the same kind of dry bun bought at the same station buffet that my companion and I came together. Before that we had sat at opposite ends of the carriage, both muffled to the chin in overcoats, both bent low over type we could barely make out, but as I threw the remains of my cake under the seat our eyes met, and he laid his book down.

By the time we were half-way to Bedwell Junction we had found an enormous range of subjects for discussion; starting with buns and the weather, we had gone on to politics, the government, foreign affairs, the atom bomb, and, by an inevitable progression, God. We had not, however, become either shrill or acid. My companion, who now sat opposite me, leaning a little forward, so that our knees nearly touched, gave such an impression of serenity that

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