Pan, by Knut Hamsun

XII

Every day, every day I met her. I will tell the truth: I was glad to meet her; aye, my heart flew. It is two years ago this year; now, I think of it only when I please, the whole story just amuses and distracts me. And as for the two green feathers, I will tell about them in good time.

There were several places where we could meet — at the mill, on the road, even in my hut. She came wherever I would. “Goddag!” she cried, always first, and I answered “Goddag!”

“You are happy to-day,” she says, and her eyes sparkle.

“Yes, I am happy,” I answer. “There is a speck there on your shoulder; it is dust, perhaps, a speck of mud from the road; I must kiss that little spot. No — let me — I will. Everything about you stirs me so! I am half out of my senses. I did not sleep last night.”

And that was true. Many a night I lay and could not sleep.

We walk side by side along the road.

“What do you think — am I as you like me to be?” she asks. “Perhaps I talk too much. No? Oh, but you must say what you really think. Sometimes I think to myself this can never come to any good . . . ”

“What can never come to any good?” I ask.

“This between us. That it cannot come to any good. You may believe it or not, but I am shivering now with cold; I feel icy cold the moment I come to you. Just out of happiness.”

“It is the same with me,” I answer. “I feel a shiver, too, when I see you. But it will come to some good all the same. And, anyhow, let me pat you on the back, to warm you.”

And she lets me, half unwillingly, and then I hit a little harder, for a jest, and laugh, and ask if that doesn’t make her feel better.

“Oh, please, don’t when I ask you; please,” says she.

Those few words! There was something so helpless about her saying it so, the wrong way round: “Please don’t when I ask you.” . . .

Then we went on along the road again. Was she displeased with me for my jest, I wondered? And thought to myself: Well, let us see. And I said:

“I just happened to think of something. Once when I was out on a sledge party, there was a young lady who took a silk kerchief from her neck and fastened it round mine. In the evening, I said to her: ‘You shall have your kerchief again to-morrow; I will have it washed.’ ‘No,’ she said, ‘give it to me now; I will keep it just as it is, after you have worn it.’ And I gave it to her. Three years after, I met the same young lady again. ‘The kerchief,’ I said. And she brought it out. It lay in a paper, just as before; I saw it myself.”

Edwarda glanced up at me.

“Yes? And what then?”

“That is all,” I said. “There was nothing more. But I thought it was nice of her.”

Pause.

“Where is that lady now?”

“Abroad.”

We spoke no more of that. But when it was time for her to go home, she said:

“Well, good-night. But you won’t go thinking of that lady any more, will you? I don’t think of anyone but you.”

I believed her. I saw that she meant what she said, and it was more than enough for me that she thought of no one else. I walked after her.

“Thank you, Edwarda,” I said. And then I added with all my heart: “You are all too good for me, but I am thankful that you will have me; God will reward you for that. I’m not so fine as many you could have, no doubt, but I am all yours — so endlessly yours, by my eternal soul. —- What are you thinking of now, to bring tears to your eyes?”

“It was nothing,” she answered. “It sounded so strange — that God would reward me for that. You say things that I . . . Oh, I love you so!”

And all at once she threw her arms round my neck, there in the middle of the road, and kissed me.

When she had gone, I stepped aside into the woods to hide, to be alone with my happiness. And then I hurried eagerly back to the road to see if anyone had noticed that I had gone in there. But I saw no one.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hamsun/knut/h23p/chapter12.html

Last updated Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 20:38