Pan, by Knut Hamsun

XXXIII

Then one night the snow came, and it began to be cold in my hut. There was a fireplace where I cooked my food, but the wood burned poorly and it was very draughty, though I had caulked the walls as well as I could. The autumn was past, and the days were growing shorter. The first snow was still melting under the rays of the sun. Presently the ground was bare again, but the nights were cold, and the water froze. And all the grass and all the insects died.

A secret stillness fell upon people; they pondered and were silent; their eyes awaited the winter. No more calling from the drying grounds: the harbour lay quiet. Everything was moving towards the eternal winter of the northern lights, when the sun sleeps in the sea. Dull came the sound of the oars from a lonely boat.

A girl came rowing.

“Where have you been, my girl?”

“Nowhere.”

“Nowhere? Look, I recognize you: I met you last summer.”

She brought the boat in, stepped ashore, made fast.

“You were herding goats. You stopped to fasten your stocking. I met you one night.”

A little flush rose to her cheeks, and she laughed shyly.

“Little goat-girl, come into the hut and let me look at you. I knew your name, too — it is Henriette.”

But she walked past me without speaking. The autumn, the winter, had laid hold of her too; her senses drowsed.

Already the sun had gone to sea.

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