The Road Leads On, by Knut Hamsun

Chapter Twenty-Five

He was hardly out of bed the next morning when folk began coming to him from Benjamin’s neighbourhood to offer him sheep for sale. But they closed no deals, for fate, it seems, is capricious. August had investigated prices abroad and had learned that, overnight, the price per head for sheep had fallen in Europe, Valparaiso and New York. “I’m paying twenty kroner today,” he said.

The news brought joy to the hearts of those who had sold the day before, but it embittered those who were seeking to sell today. Twenty kroner, they said; that wasn’t much more than they were accustomed to getting in the autumn.

“You’ve heard my price,” said August.

Then perhaps they’d better wait, they said.

“Go ahead and wait! But then your sheep will clean out the pastures and your cows will give no milk.”

He went to the bank, supplied himself with some real money, and asked the Consul if he might use the latter’s mountain grazing lands on which to pasture his sheep. The Consul immediately granted him permission, adding: “I don’t know how much of the mountain belongs to me. However, it’s a real service you are performing in thus finding something to eat for the animals.”

Banker Davidsen was listening attentively and at once the editor in him was awakened. “It is a tremendous service!” he said. “May I publish something about it in the paper?”

August: “What does the Herr Consul think about it?”

“What do I think? Why ask me?”

“I was wondering whether you would want your servant to have his name in the paper?” . . . Heavens, but the man had tact! Where had he acquired this gift?

“Surely I have no objection to offer,” the Consul smiled.

August sent for Jørn Mathildesen and his wife and put them to work with the sheep. He himself went to the Segelfoss Store and, as was quite reasonable to suppose, bought himself some new clothes with much red on shirt and belt. At the same time he stopped to buy a cigar, licked it thoroughly to preserve it, and tucked it away in his pocket. With that he made for South Parish again.

Quite humbly a fool? An old idiot in love? Hush, hush, he had business in South Parish, he had so much to discuss! Had it sunk into Cornelia’s mind who he was, what kind of business he had transacted the day before, his great achievement in sheep, the record price he had paid? Where was his like to be found? Wouldn’t she be obliged to compare him with the more mighty men of history, with Goliath, for example?

Coming within sight of the farm, he paused to light his cigar. It was still moist and would last a good long time. He unbuttoned his coat and turned into the yard. He saw no one about, and surely he was not such a one as would peer in through windows at folk. Instead, he lightly tapped the calf of his leg with his walking stick. As the lining of his coat was of pure silk it was important that he should stand facing the wind; thus, too, would his over-stuffed wallet be visible as it protruded from his inside pocket. An old man suddenly become a youth again — he would show off with what he had and disparage whatever he lacked.

What were those people doing inside? Even if they happened to be sitting there eating, they really ought to pause long enough to come to the door and receive him. Well, he would show them — he would stroll right in on them!

The entire family were seated at table. “Bless the food!” he said, offended. Cornelia got up immediately and offered him her chair. Ay, that was the least she could do! Tobias, on the other hand, was somewhat reserved, possibly still resentful over his failure to sell a certain skin rug to August.

“Well, you’ve had a chance to sleep on that sheep business,” said August, “and I’m mindful to know what you think about it today?”

“Ay,” said Tobias. “Ay.”

His wife’s reply was equally brilliant.

“You ought to be glad you sold them yesterday.”

“Hm?”

“Because today my price is twenty kroner.”

“Why why why why!”

“And tomorrow it may be that I’ll only be offering eighteen.”

“Now what can be the reason for that?” asked Tobias.

August sat there swaying his head back and forth for a time. “Tremendous fall in sheep prices all over the world,” he said at length.

“That’s funny!”

“Australia is stuffing the market with her annual output of lambs.”

“Well, then perhaps you’ll not be buying any more flocks?” Cornelia asked suddenly.

August merely smiled. “So that’s what you think, is it, Cornelia? Oh yes, I’m still in the market! It’ll take more than that to stop me! I’m out to buy ten thousand head to begin with.”

Cornelia did not clasp her hands over her breast and breathe, “Heavens!” Instead, she sat down. It was possible she couldn’t understand it, it was possible that her mind was unable to grasp such large figures.

“I’m mindful to show you something,” said August, drawing forth his wallet. “A few telegrams from my agents in Asia and America!” But in order to find the telegrams it was first necessary for him to fumble through all those many bills which were stuffing two compartments.

“God — is that money?” she gasped.

“Thousand-kroner bills,” he said indifferently. “Perhaps you’ve never seen a thousander before? Look here, how large it is! Read it for yourself, the writing’s all Norwegian.”

The entire family gathered about to stare at the bill. “One thousand” in figures and spelled out. “One thousand” on one side and “one thousand” on the other. The figure “1000” running up and down and across and stuck into every possible corner.

“Oh yes, here they are!” he said and pulled out several papers which looked very much like lottery tickets. “Look here, for they are hourly reports. Yesterday morning at ten o’clock the price of sheep in Jerusalem fell to 16,512 and that means just a trifle under sixteen kroner in the money of Pilate and Caiphas. You’d see that for yourself, only you can’t be expected to read a foreign language. I could teach you how to do it, though, Cornelia, if you’d like me to,” he said wistfully.

“No, what good would that do me?” asked Cornelia.

How silly of him to be so shamelessly in love! Whenever she came near him with her hand, his heart would lie sweet in his breast and his overhanging mustache would quiver. Had he been able to see himself in a mirror he would certainly have taken a grip on himself, but there was no glass there in the room. He got worse and worse; he persisted in boasting and making a caricature of himself. Then suddenly he came down to particulars and seized her hand. His intention had been splendid enough, for it had been his thought to place in that hand a large banknote and close the fingers tightly about it — such a thin little hand, under-nourished because of the ill fare the house afforded and the fingers all rough and torn about the nails from hard work.

“What’s this!” she asked angrily and hastily withdrew her hand.

“No, what is it!” he echoed and was so up against it to know what to do that he giggled. And again, at this point, had he seen himself in a glass, he would surely have pulled himself together, for his mustache was trembling and the corners of his mouth had grown moist.

“Did I burn your hand?” he managed to ask.

But to this she did not reply.

“Too bad if I burned you!” he said.

“I can’t make out what you want of me,” she said.

“I can’t either,” he replied curtly, and at length took a grip on himself. He gathered up his money and his lottery tickets and returned his wallet to his pocket. Bright shiny silk lined his coat, rustled when it moved; the pocket was embroidered with a scrollwork design — hm, wonder if she had taken note of this finery. What did she think it was? Cotton?

“Say, are you made of money!” exclaimed Tobias.

“What’s that?” returned August. “No, I’m not exactly made of money. No one can say that. But if you think for a minute that these few bills are all the money I have in the world, you’re making a big mistake. And that much I certainly can say.”

But all that he said was so much dust and wind for Cornelia. He might have brought in the word “million,” but she would merely take it that he was referring to the numerous sands of the seashore, as it said in the Bible.

She retired into her room.

Over in one corner her brother, that clever little Mattis, sat fingering an old accordion.

August, in his younger days, had been something of a master on the accordion and an artist at singing songs to his own accompaniment. But that had been so many years ago, perhaps forty years ago, and his voice was old now and his fingers had grown stiff. “Let me see that thing!” he said.

That old music man, that old connoisseur of accordions, he let his fingers roam about on the keys, familiarized himself with them again after those many years, then paused to think for a moment. No, he could not dash up and down and back and forth with his fingers now as he had in the days of his youth, but he would try a song with a slow and lazy rhythm: “The Girl from Barcelona.”

And he got it to go! The devil and all if the miracle of heavenly music wasn’t performed right there beneath that humble roof!

Cornelia came hurrying out of her room and halted in front of him with surprise written all over her face. “What, can you play, too!” she exclaimed.

August, superciliously: “On such an instrument as this — hardly! What’s your name?” he asked of the boy. “Mattis, eh? Good! Now let me hear what you can do!”

Mattis squirmed and was unable to do anything.

“It’s not to be expected of you, either,” said August. “On such an old cripple as this! Now listen to me closely, Mattis: if you’ll just take and call at the Segelfoss Store tomorrow at exactly twelve o’clock and tell them who sent you, you’ll find there’ll be a brand-new instrument for you there — a real instrument!” he said.

Mattis stared at him.

“Can’t you say your thanks?” demanded Cornelia.

Shyly and happily Mattis gave August his little hand.

“Hm! That’s a grand gift for you, Mattis!” said Tobias and left the house. A few moments later his wife followed him outside.

“Come, play a little more!” begged Cornelia.

August, more supercilious than before: “On such an instrument —? Such a thing is for little boys to take apart, but as for me, I only play the piano and the pipe organ these days.”

“You can do everything!” she exclaimed.

He realized from her words that she thought more highly of him now than before, that he had risen in her estimation. Ten thousand sheep and a million kroner, these were values too far remote from her own little world, but a well-played ballad — ah, this had reached her heart!

“Ay, Mattis, I don’t suppose you’ll sleep much tonight, thinking of that wonderful gift you’re to get tomorrow,” she said.

August: “You yourself can have an even more wonderful gift, if you want, Cornelia.”

“Me? No, what do I want of it?”

“Come here and sit on my lap and I’ll tell you all about it.”

“No,” she said crossly.

“Hm? Don’t you want to?”

“No.”

And with that he came straight out with it: “But when you see me sitting here and offering you everything I own in the world because I want you, Cornelia, what do you say to that?” Courageous words, spoken like a true man!

But Cornelia paled. “What are you thinking of!” she exclaimed. “Are you crazy?”

“No, I’m not crazy,” he replied. “I meant what I said.”

“You want me for your wife?” she cried.

“Is that so downright impossible?”

“Ay, downright impossible,” she said. “That can never be!”

Silence.

August became grave and said: “But you ought to see that it would make quite some difference to you, having me for your provider instead of only a little farm lad from the outskirts of town. I can buy you ten farms and dress you up in velvet and jewels so that no one would ever know you from before.”

Cornelia: “Ay, but I’ve no desire for anything more than I have.”

“You would never have to work again, you could lie in a bed of eider down both day and night and only get up for your meals. I feel so sorry to see how hard you work, Cornelia. And not only that, here you have to go around hitching and unhitching a ferocious mare.”

“She isn’t dangerous. It’s only that she gets in heat.”

“Ay, then you ought to watch out for her,” advised August, with grave concern. “And if you come across another horse to take her place, I’ll buy that for you, too! You can count on me for that!”

She was on her guard and declined; the mare was good enough.

“All right, but now you must think over my words, Cornelia,” he begged, and rose. “It isn’t every day in the week that August himself and I come offering our hand in marriage!” In truth, he had no desire to leave her, but, as he discovered himself on his feet, there was nothing for him to do but depart. In the door he turned about with a wounded look on his face, but even this produced no effect.

Outside the house he found both Tobias and his wife staring up at the mountains. August’s flocks were plainly visible as small white specks on the green; they hardly seemed to move as they waded about in the lush mountain grass and nibbled and ate their fill. High up on a rock sat the shepherdess Valborg, watching over the flocks.

August was in no mood for a chat, but he glanced up at the sky and remarked that it looked like rain. “So it won’t be so many days before there will be forage in the pasture for your cattle,” he said.

“And that will be a blessing!” said Tobias’ wife.

“We’re in the dogdays now and that means rain for these parts, bear in mind what I say. Peace be with you!” he said and strode off.

Tobias fell in step with him. “What do you think about that thing we were talking about yesterday?” he asked.

“What was that?” August shot back without turning his head.

“Whether you’d be willing to help me? A hundred-kroner is nothing for a man like you.”

Well, Tobias was surely right in that and, without slackening his pace, August took out his wallet, handed over a red bill, and simply kept on walking, walking. Not another word.

On the way home he encountered Jørn Mathildesen with Benjamin’s seven sheep. He was leading one by a rope, the six others trailing on behind. In order to get the leader to go he had fastened a wisp of hay on the rope in front of the creature’s face, and mile after mile the sheep went waddling along without once being able to catch up with that wisp of hay. A sheep — gentle and kind but forever idiotic.

“Tomorrow there will be more flocks,” said August. “But folk must bring them up the mountain themselves. All you’re to do is to stand up there and keep a record of the number you receive.”

Jørn nodded and passed on his way. He was unable to stop, for, if he did, the leash in his hand would fall slack and the sheep would catch up with the wisp of hay and promptly gobble it down.

“What did they say at Benjamin’s place?” called August.

“They complained about you,” Jørn called in reply.

Oh, so they had complained, had they! How sweet of them, especially after they had received sixty or seventy kroner too much for their flock! Well, it had been Cornelia who had brought the plague upon them; she had sent a rush message to that prince of hers, hehe! to that commander of the bicycle brigade! But wait a bit, my dear Benjamin, you have no reason to feel cocksure about that girl of yours, for not even yet has August expanded himself to his full capacity. August is such a man as can station himself in the middle of a road and, with raised finger, cry: “Stop!” . . . And even worse, there is the lad Hendrik who was probably accepted by the girl not more than two weeks ago and who any day and hour may turn up with his shotgun and his honest taste for murder. . . .

August stopped in at the store, selected the finest and most expensive accordion available for the lad Mattis, bought two cigars and sauntered down to the pier. He would look up the Gypsy Alexander. He had an idea.

The two were not friends — no one was friends with the Gypsy, although he was so capable. He looked up with those piercing eyes of his and asked: “Where the devil have you been keeping yourself?”

“Who wants to know!” August retorted.

“I do, for there have been all kinds of folk trying to get hold of you up at the Manor today, but you’ve been roaming around like a regular damned old tramp.”

“They just came to sell me some sheep,” said August. “But here’s what I was going to say, Alexander,” he added pleasantly —“What do you do during the day?”

“How’s that any of your business?” replied the Gypsy, disagreeably.

“For if you’re only loafing around and wasting your time, I’ve a good chance for you to earn some money.”

“Hahaha! You have?”

“Hold that jaw of yours until I’m through talking!” August commanded him. “You who go around trying to show off how much you know about horses, tell me, do you know the slightest thing better than nothing about sheep?”

“Sheep?” Alexander shot back. “I know about all kinds of animals!”

“You know about all kinds of animals, do you!” sneered August. “Well, you probably know a good bit about lice. But now that I’m buying up sheep, I might get you to do a bit of business in that line for me.”

“You! You haven’t any money!” said Alexander.

“I could do the buying myself,” August continued, “but I can’t be sure the Consul will like it to have so many folk coming to see me at the Manor. And I suppose I could open an office and hire me a few clerks here in town, but that wouldn’t look right so long as I’m Altmulig in the Consul’s service. Here, have a cigar?”

The Gypsy accepted the cigar, and said: “But I won’t smoke it now that it’s been in the hands of such an old puke as you. I could vomit every time I look at you.”

They assailed each other with words and were anything but friendly, one toward the other, but at length they came to an agreement: the Gypsy would go out into the country districts and buy up sheep on all days he was free from the salmon net and his work in the smokehouse. He received instructions as to the making out of a proper document for each sale, a contract signed by the seller to the effect that the latter would himself drive his flock up the mountain on the very day of the sale, that over the winter he would feed the sheep he had sold at such and such a price, and so on. The Gypsy himself was to waste no time; this business demanded haste, for the summer was rapidly waning and it was August’s hope to fill the mountain pasturage with sheep as swiftly as possible. “Ay, so you can take and begin tomorrow,” he said. “Now are you sure that you understand everything?”

The Gypsy responded with an expert question, involving the devil of a fine point: “Is it mutton or shear sheep you’re wanting?”

“What’s that?”

“Do you want them for slaughter or for wool?”

August was silent for a time before answering. “Both kinds!” he said at length, but he was annoyed that he didn’t know the difference between the various kinds of sheep.

They quarreled a bit about this matter and about many others. Alexander found it difficult to believe that August had money and, at length, he demanded to see the colour of it. For how could he put his finger on several hundred kroner without knowing they actually existed? With regard to Alexander’s pay, it was decided that he should receive a certain percentage of the purchase price for each sheep acquired at eighteen kroner and each lamb taken over at ten. “Look, here’s an advance of five hundred kroner,” said August. “See that you get busy tomorrow!”

“That’s a pile of money you’ve got there!” exclaimed Alexander. “Did you find that book of yours?”

“Ay, I came across it when I was cleaning out my sack.”

“Do you keep it on you at night?”

“The book? No,” said August. “I leave it here in my pocket and I hang my coat up on the wall. As for myself, I lie in the bed.”

He set out the following day on a lonely expedition; clad in his old clothes, a package of lunch, his revolver and a hundred cartridges in his pocket, he set out to skirt the lake in the mountains.

Another idea? Yes, an idea.

A careful survey of the lake had long preyed upon his mind as an important task to be undertaken, and he dared not delay it further. Were there — in the name of Heaven — trout in the lake? Had those waters actually been stocked by Theodore paa Bua, the Consul’s father? Or was there a possibility that the fish had entered from the sea by way of some unknown brook? Could the existence of such a brook be established?

The old altmuligmand makes his journey afoot, fights his way along over rocks and through gullies, sometimes wading through water, sometimes forced far out of his way by natural obstacles, but he keeps on walking, advancing, covering the distance step by step. There is thoroughness in his march through the wilderness. At noon he reckoned it out that he had covered half the total distance; the hunting lodge was far out of sight and he had yet to come across the slightest sign of a brook which flowed from the lake. He ate his lunch, got out his revolver and began shooting. Target practice: shots at long and at short range, shots through his pocket, shots with his left hand, over his shoulder and with his eyes closed — he ran the entire gamut. He fired and laughed aloud — here was a grand pleasure, a thrilling joy, the echoing reports music to his ears, hahaha. . . .

At length he carefully polished that beloved revolver of his and resumed his march.

The afternoon wore on, fish began snapping at flies, not small fish, either, full-fledged lake trout. Occasionally they would turn round in mid air and for an instant appear as gleaming crescents.

All day long he had come across vast numbers of brooks gurgling down into the lake from the snow-capped peaks above, but none there were which flowed from the lake to the sea.

At six o’clock he stood beside the broad river which below formed the Segelfoss, the falls from which the town had taken its name, and here he was forced to halt. The river was low at this season of the year but was, even so, an effective bar to his progress. Naturally. He pretended to himself that he had been aware of this the whole time, but he was nevertheless unable to recover from the initial shock he had received. There he stood, confronted with a choice of returning the long way he had come around the lake or of attempting a descent of the steep bluff at the side of the falls to the big bridge which crossed the river below. Upon which course of action would he decide?

He sat down for a time and fell to whistling, for no especial reason, merely to give expression to the fun he was having, and at length he began whispering to himself: “So you thought you could cross the river here, did you? Not at all! I told you all along you’d find no steamer here to carry you across. Don’t you remember that? I knew all about it; didn’t I warn you in time —?”

He determined at length to try making his way down the sharp decline beside river and falls. He ought to be able to manage without trouble. He had often stared up at the mountain from below, and frightening indeed it had seemed. Ay, but here was a man who had climbed about in the tallest rigging of a big ship tossing at sea, and, if that had, in truth, been many a long year ago, wasn’t he still thin and light of foot . . .?

Step by step he descends. As he draws near the cataract, the mighty roar increases and he can no longer whisper to himself, can no longer fool himself with those silly lies and inventions of his. He has all he can do simply to plan his next foothold.

At the brink of the falls he is forced to give it up. This is as far as he can possibly proceed. Falling away at his feet is a sheer cliff which offers him no sign of a foothold. Now it may be that in his younger days he used to climb about in the rigging of a ship at sea, but surely he has never in his life dangled over the edge of a perpendicular mountain wall. Nothing doing there! Phew! Far below he observes Holmengraa’s huge, deserted mill, and farther down the river a quiet pool, the scene of his recent baptism. Oh, that already quite forgotten baptism in the river — down there it had taken place with Cornelia looking on! A cloud of wet spray, swept up from the falls, blows over him, and with that he begins clambering back up the slope. Nothing else for him to do! Half way to the top he sits down to rest. The roar from the cataract has faded into silence.

“I told you how it would be!” he whispered to himself.

But ’tis an ill wind which blows no one some good. Seated there, he settles upon an excellent route which will lead him back home, and, with that, he crawls to his feet: by walking far enough east, he can follow a diagonal course down through his mountain pasturage and from there make a gradual and easy descent into South Parish. And this would not take him as long as it would, were he to retrace his steps and circle the lake again. Furthermore he was not opposed to finding himself again in South Parish.

Two hours later he encounters his own flocks and their shepherds. Well-fed and contented, the sheep have settled down for the night and Jørn Mathildesen and his wife are seated beneath an overhanging ledge of rock at their supper of cold food and black coffee. An ample roof for their heads, a bag of hay and a skin rug farther back beneath the ledge, and this is their home on the mountain. Conditions could not be better for them; Valborg was a comely wife to have and Jørn himself a different fellow entirely when not obliged to beg for a living.

They had received thirty-one sheep today, they told him, and these, added to their original twenty-seven, gave them a present flock of fifty-eight head. They reckoned things out in scores in order to avoid overstraining those feeble brains of theirs with large figures —“three score missing two,” was their manner of expressing the figure “fifty-eight.”

“Pity ’tis they’ve laid them down!” said Valborg, regarding the sheep. For now August could not see how pretty they were. She didn’t have the heart to disturb them, she said, now that they were nicely settled down for the night. But there were a number of lovely little lambs in the flock and a pair of huge rams with horns, she explained.

“Mutton sheep or shear sheep?” asked August.

She was ignorant of the distinction and August was obliged to drop the question. But what did he care about these sheep as sheep! Casting a hasty glance over the little clusters of sleeping creatures, it was the number, the exact figure alone, which interested him. . . . Alexander had done well the first day, but once he had hit his stride, he would doubtless be able to do even better, perhaps buying up as many as a hundred head a day.

August was invited to partake of black coffee, cold pork and a slice of bread and, during the course of the repast, he and his hosts exchanged the usual civilities. “You’ll not want for anything now!” he said. “Heavens, how can we ever thank you!” they replied.

They shared with him all they had and that hungry old man, he felt considerably enlivened as the result of this food and drink. Jørn and Valborg together were now earning five whole kroner a day, splendid wages for such as they and more than they had ever before earned in their lives. August now presented them with ten-kroner as an extra bonus “to split” between them, and with that he rose and left them.

South Parish already lay sound asleep. He had so directed his course that he came down fair on Tobias’ land, but the house was as still as death and there was not even a dog to bark a warning. . . . Now certainly there was nothing singular in his desire to stop in and learn how the lad Mattis had liked his accordion . . .?

He took a turn over in the direction of the horse. It was, as usual, gnawing away at the stubble, and the moment it caught sight of him, it laid back its ears and glared at him. A horse-crazy mare that had spells, she belonged with the devil in hell, she did! August simply could not stand for her another day. He strode back to the house to knock on the door and issue a curt order in regard to this matter. He knew very well which window was Cornelia’s. . . .

Cornelia’s window had no curtains, but what difference did that make to him? He knew his place — he would not peer inside, he would simply knock on the window.

“Cornelia!” he called softly, his mustache already beginning to quiver.

No answer.

“Cornelia, you’re to have another horse!”

Silence.

Ay, but the devil and all, he had important business with her! She should be so good as to listen to him, it was urgent that she have another horse. “Cornelia!” he called again, this time aloud and imperiously.

No answer.

He scratched on the pane with his finger-nail.

No answer.

He shielded his eyes and peered into the room. . . .

Within lay none but sleeping children, the new accordion in bed with Mattis — but no Cornelia.

Hm, so she was out running around, eh? God knew where — in town perhaps, possibly in North Parish — but, in any event, out running around. . . .

He hears someone moving about inside the house and in a few moments Tobias, barefoot in nightshirt and trousers, appears at the door. He is not angry, he merely steps outside. “Isn’t Cornelia there?” he asks.

August is immediately somewhat flustered. “No, it doesn’t seem like it,” he says.

“Then she must have gone some place.”

“I just wanted to warn her about that horse,” says August.

“Ay? Well well.”

“You mustn’t think of keeping that horse around another day. I’m going to shoot her.”

Tobias sees no reason for such extreme action. “We’ll take and get her covered,” he suggests.

This solution to the problem has never occurred to August and he inquires if that would help things.

“Ay, right off!” Tobias asserts.

“Then you should have done it before.”

“Right enough, what you say is certainly so! But we had to wait till we got the hay in, you see.”

August is impatient at once. “Will you take her tomorrow?” he demands.

“No, you see, we must wait a bit, for she isn’t having one of her spells just now. Cornelia, she can handle her like nothing at all these days.”

“She’s a nasty tempered beast!” fumes August. “I went over to her tonight and I thought she was going to jump on me.”

“That was because you’re a stranger.”

“All right, all right, all right! Stranger or no stranger, you’ve got to do something about her!”

Again Tobias sees no reason for heroic measures. “I imagine that in three or four weeks she’ll have one of her spells again, and when she does Cornelia will take her to the stallion.”

“What’s that — Cornelia!” August snorts. “You’re going to let that Cornelia take out a ferocious mare in heat!”

“She knows so much more about it than the rest of us.”

“Where is that Cornelia?” August asks severely.

“If only I knew and could tell you!”

“For I want to forbid her to go with the mare.”

“I wouldn’t say as you shouldn’t,” Tobias says, falling in line.

“Say, what the devil does that Cornelia mean by running around at night?”

“Maybe you can tell me!”

August left the farm with bitterness in his breast, quite forgetting to ask Mattis about his new accordion. What had he gained from having returned home by way of South Parish? He might easily have found a way down beside the falls and long ago been home — what was a mere precipice of fifteen hundred feet! Had he not stood at the brink of the world’s most appalling precipices and easily found his way down!

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hamsun/knut/h23r/chapter25.html

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