“Have you ever killed an animal?” I said I had never killed anything.

“You will. You’ll put Viola down. You’ll have him injected, when the time comes. Try to understand. When the sands run out for someone, don’t stop them going. You can’t give them anything to replace life. Do you think I didn’t love Polett? That it meant nothing to me when she’d had enough and wanted out? It’s just that, as well as love, you also have to know how to kill. It won’t do you any harm to remember that. Ask your God — since you’re on such good terms with him — what Polett told him when they finally met.”

—Magda Szabo