The Road Leads On, by Knut Hamsun

Chapter Twenty-Nine

And now a number of things happened in rapid succession.

Possibly Fru Juliet’s walk had been none too good for her; toward morning the little lady began developing queer symptoms and by sun-up she had become a mother for the fifth time. Yes, at last the third little girl had arrived.

“That’s the way it goes!” said August when he learned of the event. And thereafter he made divers references both to the blessings of the Lord and to the blossoms of a flower garden.

But the Consul, he stole into the room in his stocking-feet to have a peep at mother and daughter and to ask an endless series of questions. He was so solicitous of his wife’s condition, and he sat down on the edge of the bed and was deeply touched. “Yes, Juliet, you surely are a prize!” he said — the exact words he had used on each of the four previous occasions. And he told her that he had just received a letter from that English gentleman saying that he would arrive in a week or thereabouts. “So I don’t know what we are going to do,” said the Consul.

“What do you mean?” asked his wife.

“Now that you’re laid up, I mean.”

“Haha!”

“It’s no laughing matter. On the contrary, I’m in something of a tight place.”

“Can I help that!”

“Yes, you knew he was coming, didn’t you!”

“Haha! You mustn’t make me laugh — it will wake her up!”

And to make matters worse, Gammelmoderen was now away. “Where the devil did mother go just at this time?” he asked. “And that miserable Altmulig appeared to know something about it, too, but he wouldn’t come out with it. You must all be crazy!”

They decided to wire for Marna who was staying with her sister, Fru Knoff of Helgeland. “However, I can’t see how that will be necessary,” said Fru Juliet. “In a week I’ll be up and about and as good as ever.”

Here he began to growl again, saying that what she wanted was to have the Englishman all to herself, and again she was forced to laugh. Oh, she was so languid, she laughed at everything.

“You might at least allow Marna this opportunity!” he said.

“Haha! Go away, Gordon! If you don’t, I’ll ring!”

Very well, Gordon went away, went down to his office. And now he suddenly found himself actually busy. That afternoon Banker-Editor Davidsen called upon him with the keys to the bank and said that he had come to resign.

Resign!

The Consul laid his pen aside and was, as usual, the perfect gentleman of the English school: “Resign, did you say?”

“Yes, right here and now! Not another day of it!”

“Won’t you sit down, Herr Davidsen! What seems to be the trouble?”

“August,” said Davidsen. “That sheep business of his.”

“Yes?” said the Consul and waited. “Yes, that sheep business?”

“For I refuse to pay out another krone on that bank-book of his.”

“No, there’s much to be said for that.”

“He came back to me again today for more money — thousands!” Davidsen declared. “I explained to him the matter of his balance, but he merely smiled at that and answered: ‘It may look even worse soon for I’ve just telegraphed for an engine to put in the sloop.”

“My sloop?” said the Consul, raising his eyebrows. “I haven’t instructed him to do anything of the sort.”

“I gave him a thousand,” said Davidsen, “but he became offended at that and said that a thousand was nothing. ‘All right, but not another øre shall you have today, my good sir,’ I said. ‘And tomorrow I shan’t be here,’ I said.”

“Has he overdrawn?” asked the Consul.

“No, but he’s getting down pretty near the line. He has only a few thousand left.”

“Yes, the situation is undeniably tragic.”

“You don’t know how deeply I regret that notice I published in the paper about his pasturage,” said Davidsen. “For no doubt that has encouraged him into purchasing sheep beyond all common sense. I don’t know.”

The Consul was not inclined to look on the dark side of the matter. “He’s really a brilliant chap,” he said, “so God knows what he’s up to with all those sheep up there. And, after all, the money he’s spending is his.”

Davidsen, with determination: “Not another øre shall he receive from me!”

“It won’t help matters simply to allow another to give it to him.”

“No. But I lack the conscience to go on.”

The Consul thought the matter over long and carefully, blinked his eyes and studied the thing out in his mind. “Yes, but it can’t be your meaning to quit the bank permanently, can it?”

“That is exactly my meaning, yes,” said Davidsen. “You have not misunderstood me there, Herr Consul. I have laid the keys on your desk.”

The Consul studied the problem further. “You are throwing away a splendid income for yourself and family, Herr Davidsen.”

“I know it,” said Davidsen.

“A matter of thousands.”

“Yes. But I’m unsuited to the post and those at home have long been cognizant of the fact. Oh, they’ve had a few clothes during the time I’ve put in at the bank, so they are perfectly well satisfied. We are in no dire need, we are a contented family.”

The Consul weighed the question in his mind for the third time, and at length he realized that he would get nowhere with Davidsen. “Well, in any event, I am not the proper person to receive these keys,” he said. “I have nothing to do with them. The magistrate happens to be the chairman of the board.”

“That’s true,” said Davidsen. “But I took on this work with the distinct understanding that I could walk out the very moment I found myself incapable of going on. And it is now my wish to leave these keys in your hands so that I can walk out of your office a free man again. My only regret is that you have had to waste so much of your valuable time trying to acquaint me with a practice from which I have derived no satisfaction —”

He sounded more than ever like that paper of his, the Consul mused after Davidsen had left him. A remarkable man, for all that, and a remarkable family, too. Here he was going about in the modern age with a little inner voice which spoke to him, with a little antique curio inside his brain — a thing called conscience. They had got a few clothes and were contented. The Consul had learned nothing like that in all those foreign schools of his, but the thing none the less appeared to him in terms of startling reality. His mind kept feeding on this point: Gad, if he hadn’t run up against a man who was actually pure and good of heart! And, both as a gentleman and as a human being, he felt a huge respect for purity and goodness of heart. Wonder if Juliet couldn’t pick out something for Fru Davidsen, he mused. Not discarded wearing apparel, of course, but something from stock in the store, something in the way of a winter dress . . . won’t you please . . . with our compliments. . . .

But Gad — he would certainly find himself pestered by Altmulig on the morrow! The wonder was he hadn’t been around already! Gordon Tidemand was a great man and a fine gentleman and all that, but he disliked all forms of personal friction and dreaded anything resembling a scene. Were Altmulig to come to him on the following day with a complaint about Davidsen, the Consul would surely find himself wishing he were dead and buried. . . .

And about those keys there on the desk — what was he going to do with them? Annoyed — just to think, the Consul! — yes, downright irritated, he snatched up the keys and carried them out to the car, placed them in the rear seat and drove them over to the magistrate’s, exactly as though they had been passengers.

A situation had arisen, the consequences of which now spread in all directions.

The Consul made the first move and himself paid a visit to August. Feigning great pressure of affairs, he spoke rapidly and uttered but a few terse words: the Englishman was now on his way to them. Would those fences along the road be finished inside of a week’s time?

“We’re working on them,” August replied.

“Yes, but will they be ready in a week?”

“We’ll do our best.”

“Good!” said the Consul and left. His interview had been successful, he had sidetracked August’s complaint.

But August was likewise soon given something to think about. Jørn Mathildesen came rushing down from the mountain with an important message. . . . No, there had been no wolves, and no sheep had become wedged in a cleft of rock or fallen down over a bluff — nothing of this order, and yet — Jørn Mathildesen would not take the responsibility of receiving another sheep.

August’s eyes were popping.

Jørn would like nothing better, as God was his witness, but it would be absolutely out of the question to feed any more sheep on the mountain after today. That Valborg had sent him down with this message, and that Valborg, she had taken care of animals ever since the days she was small. But soon now the flocks would be spreading out over the whole seven miles of the moorland and the sheep which were coming in today were thin and under-fed and would be needing what forage was left. So August must forgive him for coming to him with such a piece of bad news, but. . . .

August thought for a long time, then asked: “Have you fifty score sheep up there yet?”

“Seven-and-fifty score missing three,” Jørn reported.

August nodded. “All right then, we’ll quit.”

“Oh, then there won’t be any more?”

“No.”

“I knew it!” Jørn exclaimed. “If only I could get to talk with you!”

“Ay, for we’ve no other way out of the mess,” August admitted. And quite successfully he created the impression that he was simply furious with the way things had turned out; he threw his head around, sighed and clutched his breast. Deep down inside, however, he was anything but displeased to be able so gracefully to call a halt to his purchasing campaign. He had over a thousand head now — in actual figures, one thousand one hundred thirty-seven, but well over two thousand for conversational purposes. Such a flock would be regarded as a sheer fairy tale throughout the length and breadth of Nordland. Coldevin had hardly owned that many sheep and Willatz Holmsen had had well under two thousand head. Moreover, what else could he do but give in? The mountain was too small for him, it had been poorly constructed in the beginning for an enterprise on such a grand scale. A mere seven miles of moorland! Ugh, what did that amount to compared with a seventy-five mile stretch of prairie! And this was not all: yesterday Banker Davidsen had given him a statement of his account which had been none too encouraging, and the money he had in his wallet consisted of no more than a single scrawny thousand. Yes, as he had said, he had no other way out of the mess than to call off all future purchasing.

But wasn’t it likely that Dame Fortune would again smile upon him, as it was printed on his lottery tickets! Why, he had the best chances in the world there. . . .

“Ay, so that’s all you had to say then, Jørn?”

“That’s all. So we won’t be getting any more sheep, then?”

August shook his head and went his way.

Yes, of course, he would call a halt at once. Why the devil had that good Hendrik gone on buying up seven score sheep after he had passed the thousand mark — that is, the two thousand mark? Those seven score did nothing to help a round number and thus represented but money thrown away.

So wouldn’t it be wise for him to saunter out to South Parish immediately? Out of the question! He was not as hard up as all that, the devil and all if he was! Oh, August was hardly crippled! His first act was to determine the postmaster’s office hours, after which he hastened up the new road to his workmen. They were busy drilling holes, slow work — as the pickets, beautifully pointed at the end, were two inches in diameter, the holes would have to correspond.

“Can you get these fences up in a week?” asked August.

“We’re working as fast as we can,” replied Boldemand.

“Will you be finished in a week?” repeated August.

Boldemand and his comrades thought the matter over, talked it over amongst themselves, debated several points, at length reached a decision. “That will be pretty hard,” they said.

“The Consul wants it finished in a week,” said August. “He’s expecting a lord from England to come here and visit him.”

“We wouldn’t dare to promise it,” they replied. “There’s a Sunday coming between.”

“And if you should work overtime at double pay?”

“We might be able to do it like that,” they replied.

“Then we’ll leave it that way. But here’s another important matter,” said August. “I want that rear wall of the lawyer’s cellar torn out.”

“Hm,” they said. “Buttonhead’s cellar wall, eh? Is he going to pay now?”

“Ay, the druggist has bought the lot and he’ll pay, you needn’t worry about that.”

What, the druggist? they cried. So he’d bought the lot, had he? When was that? There’s a remarkable fellow, that druggist! There’s one man in a million! Oh, so he’s bought the lot! More than once they had stopped in to see him at the drugstore and he had helped them out. “Didn’t you get two bottles out of him one time, Boldemand?”

“I could have got four!” answered Boldemand.

August: “Can you rip out that wall this afternoon between three and six?”

They shook their heads at this: Three hours? — No.

“Can you rip it out in five hours?”

They might be able to do it in that time.

“Good,” said August. “Tomorrow between eight and one, then!”

Why just then? they asked.

“That’s not for you to know,” answered August. “But between eight and one is the time. Have you got that?”

Oh yes, they had understood their schedule and all that, and they would have to work like slaves to accomplish the work in five hours, but the cellar wall had perhaps not set to stone as yet, and that would help a good bit. They talked and they talked and they talked. And the fact of the matter was there wasn’t a thing in the world they wouldn’t do for the druggist, such a special man, such a stately fellow as he was. . . .

August went to South Parish. On business, as usual, however. He had news for them there; fate had stepped in and called a halt to his activities. And now he would crave an answer; she need not wonder at that, considering how long he had been waiting.

Again both Tobias and his wife stepped outside to invite him into the house, and again Cornelia was not at home. The lad Mattis reported that he had seen Cornelia a short time before up at the neighbouring farm and that Hendrik was teaching her to ride a bicycle.

Aha! August was pleased to hear this, for it indicated that she had turned her nose from Benjamin. He handed Mattis a krone and said: “Go get them!”

Some time passed before the pair appeared and August meanwhile merely sat there in silence, his hands resting upon his cane. Far be it from him to squander his news upon two old people. Hendrik came pedaling into the yard with Cornelia riding on behind. How they were abusing that splendid new machine! Two grown-up people riding on one bicycle over a hummocky road! But August would certainly not be the one to mention the fact — little Cornelia, she was so thin and light, had really never had enough to eat in her life.

“I was waiting to see you at home, Hendrik,” he said.

“Why so?” asked Hendrik. “I’ve money enough to last me through tomorrow.”

“But couldn’t you imagine that I might have other orders to give you!”— August turned to Cornelia and inquired if she enjoyed riding a wheel.

“Ay,” she replied. “It was loads of fun. And that Hendrik, such a one as he is to give lessons!”

“You shall have a girl’s wheel,” he said. “Now what do I get for it?”

“I haven’t anything to give you for it.”

“Have you thought over that matter I was talking to you about the last time I was here?”

“He wasn’t talking to me about anything, Hendrik, do you hear!” she said, with face aflame.

What the devil did Hendrik have to do with it? Oh, but weren’t those two sitting there making eyes at each other, and Hendrik in a new coat and all? The devil and all if he didn’t seem to have recovered his standing with Cornelia — that new wheel of his, and his imposing new position as purchasing agent for August’s sheep enterprise had apparently carried some weight with her. At least, it looked very much like that.

August suddenly came out with the news. “I’m buying no more sheep, Hendrik!” he said.

All gaped at him and Hendrik exclaimed: “What’s that?”

“Ay, so you thought it would go on forever, did you? Well, it’s all over now, you see.”

“Hm!” said Tobias. “Why can that be? Excuse me for asking.”

“It seems,” said August, “that there isn’t enough grass on the mountain for any more sheep. That Jørn Mathildesen and that Valborg, they’ve been down to tell me about it. They can’t take on another sheep, they tell me.”

“My, isn’t that a shame!” complained Tobias, speaking for himself.

August gave vent to a thorough disgust with the mountain, literally gave the mountain blue blazes. A dungheap of a mountain, a mere manure pile! Seven miserable miles of moorland! No more than you could hold in your lap! Enough for a few puny sheep, but what good did that do! No, he should never have given up his Hardanger moor! Down there he had had thirty thousand head. The moor there had been fifty miles long and he had had a shepherd for every mile!

Oh, August and those grand figures of his again! They went completely over the heads of everyone present and disconsolately Hendrik asked: “So I’m not to buy up any more sheep?”

“No, that’s what you heard, isn’t it! And those reptiles you sent up yesterday were no more than skin and bones. You didn’t do so well when you bought those.”

Cornelia puts in a word for him. “That Hendrik, he can’t very well look over every sheep he buys,” she says.

“You’re getting pretty thick with that Hendrik again, aren’t you!” said August, causing her once more to blush furiously.

How everything seemed to dislocate itself and twist itself out of shape for August! Weren’t those two sitting there as good as making love to each other right there under his very nose! “Come, Mattis, let me hear how much music you’ve learned by this time,” he said simply to hold himself together.

But no, Mattis had learned not a thing. Nevertheless, he brought out the accordion and laid it in August’s lap. A clever ruse to get him to play! . . . But was he in any mood for music? Had he recently been the recipient of a great burning joy or an embrace? . . . He laid his cane on the table and began fingering the keys. He had been a master in his day; but here were so many buttons and keys to press and his fingers were stiff with age. Then suddenly at his wits’ end and in utter desperation, he strikes up with the song about the girl who jumped in the sea. More, he undertakes to sing the words!

Again all sat with mouth agape. They had not expected this; they really had not expected anything at all, least of all that he should sing. But there he had burst into song!

If only he had not attempted to use his voice! It was not that he was spoiling the song itself, merely that the total effect was not pleasing. He was an old man, a caricature, and his mustache was quivering so helplessly.

The others appeared somewhat embarrassed whilst he, with pathetic and soul-stirring emotion, played through the lengthy stanzas, striving ever for polyphonic effect, filling in each interval between verses with his most fetching chords, an art for which he had once been noted. But an old man singing, that mustache of his, those eyes of washed-out blue, his whole appearance —!

Cornelia, in desperation, picked up his cane from the table, ran it through her fingers a time or two and at length laid it across her knees as she sat there. August noted this and was stimulated at once. Hm, there she sat fondling his cane, her eyes resting fair upon it. . . . Was she trying, then, to conceal how deeply she was moved? It could not be possible that she knew the song, for it dated back several generations and had last been sung and hummed throughout the province of Salten some thirty years ago and today it was dead. Ah, but she could hear the words, couldn’t she? These were not to be misunderstood.

Coming to the place where the girl jumped, August revealed himself as the true artist he was. He had seen and heard many things in his lifetime and he had a talent for effect; therefore at this point, he indulged in the theatrical gesture of stopping short and resting throughout an entire measure. This unexpected and seemingly endless period of silence was to give the effect of the girl going to the bottom. After which he played a series of slow lugubrious chords and brought the song to a conclusion.

“Here, take this thing away!” he said, handing the instrument to Mattis. His fingers were tired and sore. Turning to Cornelia, he said: “Would you like that cane of mine?”

She could not have been so deeply moved by the music, for she laughed at once and said: “Good Heavens, no! What do I want with it!”

“No?” he said.

“That was a pretty thing you played there.”

“Did you like it?”

“Ay, it was the prettiest thing I ever heard,” said Tobias, adding his own opinion. Meanwhile, his wife was wagging her head and chattering away: “My my! Oh my! We’ve never heard anything like it!” And here again the old people were holding him up and doing their best to recommend him. Their efforts seemed lost upon their daughter, however, for if she wasn’t sitting there picking straws from Hendrik’s splendid new coat!

“That’s nothing to what I can do on the piano!” said August. “For when I play the piano I always use notes.”

“Ay, that’s the way it is when a man has a genius for music!” nodded Tobias.

August continued: “Nights when I couldn’t go to sleep on account of all the things I had on my mind, many’s the time I’ve sat down and played the piano until daybreak.”

“Can’t you sleep nights?” asked Tobias.

“No, very seldom. I’ve told you, Cornelia, how things are with me.”

She started up as though she had been stuck with a pin. “I don’t remember anything about it,” she said. “Now, Hendrik, you must come out and steady me a bit again. Then I’ll be able to ride, you’ll see.”

What, bicycle practice now? That crazy young one! Didn’t she ever have a serious thought in her head?

“Hm!” August said holding out his hand to Hendrik. “Let me see the papers covering those last purchases of yours.”

Hendrik fumbled a bit in the pocket of his new coat, but he managed to locate the papers and laid them in August’s hand. August, in turn, adjusted his glasses and glanced over the records, jotted down some figures and struck a total. Then he held out his hand again and this time asked for the money, the cash balance. Hendrik drew out a package done up in wrapping paper and, no mistake, there was the money as well. Cornelia, with a tense expression on her face, was following every move.

August counted the money.

“Ay, and there are some small bills, too,” said Hendrik digging into his trousers pocket.

“Rubbish!” said August. “I have no use for small change in my business! And here now is your pay. Count it over!”

“But you gave me more than my pay when I began,” said Hendrik.

“Count that money, I told you!”

Oh-ho, so that was it! They should learn that orders were orders!

But Hendrik was a clean little lad, for all that, and when he came and gave August his hand in thanks, August could not help feeling some compassion for him. Now that Hendrik had lost his secretarial position and his steady wage, Benjamin of North Parish would gain the inside track again. It appeared that Cornelia was already changing her mind as she sat there; no longer was she hunting for straws on Hendrik’s new coat.

“Hm!” August repeated. “But I have another job for you, Hendrik. I have so many jobs to give out. You’ll hear from me.”

“If only I might!” said Hendrik, wistfully.

“I don’t suppose you know any foreign languages?”

“Foreign languages? No.”

“Well, that’s too bad. I know four myself,” said August.

Tobias wagged his head and was overwhelmed.

“I could sit here talking foreign languages for three weeks at a stretch,” said August.

“Folk who are folk know everything!” said Tobias.

“So that means you won’t have a place for me?” asked Hendrik, disconsolately.

“Didn’t I say you’d hear from me!” bellowed August. “I believe you can rely upon my word!”

“Excuse me, sir!” Hendrik apologized.

“It happens,” explained August, “that we are to have a grand Englishman, a lord, to visit us up at the Manor and he’ll be here within the week. He’s to hunt and fish for trout and be our guest at the Manor. Serving him will not be hard or unpleasant work for you, Hendrik — your job will be simply to go about with him and carry his shotgun, his walking stick and that meerschaum pipe of his.”

“But I wouldn’t be able to talk to him or understand what he says, would I?”

“I’ll teach you the most important words in no time — I wanted to teach you, too, Cornelia, but you refused!”

“Aren’t you ashamed!” said her mother.

“She’s such a silly goose sometimes,” her father remarks apologetically.

“So that will be a mighty fine post for you, Hendrik,” continues August. “Better than pumping about the country buying up sheep, eh? I could almost say I’m sick of that entire business, for it was too small for me to be bothered with — ay, but after all, I don’t suppose you could exactly call it so small.”

“How many sheep do you suppose you’ve got in all?” asked Tobias.

“Something over two thousand,” said August offhandedly.

“Two thousand!” Tobias shouted.

“Two thousand!” screamed his wife.

Neither seemed able to comprehend such a vast number.

But August had not boasted with intelligence, it seems. He ought to have realized that Jørn Mathildesen and his wife were in a position at any time to correct the figure. No, he had not lied carefully and well; he had boasted merely for the moment’s effect. He had imagination enough, he was inventive and romantic enough, but he was all breadth; he had no depth to his nature.

Cornelia put in an encouraging word: “There, you see, Hendrik! Now you’re to have another job!”

August turned to her suddenly and asked: “And me — what do I get for it, Cornelia?”

And at this Tobias suddenly remembered that he had something to do outside and left. In the door he halted and called to Hendrik, got him to come along by pretending that he had something in the shed to show him.

“You don’t answer,” said August. “You must know, Cornelia, that I’m doing all this for Hendrik simply because of you.”

She twisted herself this way and that and was tired and bored with the whole affair. “No, now you’re not to begin all that again!” she pleaded with him.

“Aren’t you ashamed!” her mother exclaimed and left them.

“For I offer you the same now as I did before,” August continued, his heart and soul overflowing. “There wouldn’t be a single thing on the face of the earth I’d deny you, for that’s how much I love you. Many sad times I have thought of going out into the world again and leaving you behind, but I’ve never been able to do that. So what do you say now when I ask you again? You won’t be angry with me any more, will you?”

Plain words, tender words, courtship. And now that her eyes were on the window, she could no longer see how his mustache was trembling, an effect which had possibly disgusted her a bit before.

Outside Tobias and Hendrik could be seen. They had been in the shed and now they had come out again. They were standing by the bicycle, talking together. It appeared that Hendrik was trying to get away and that Tobias was trying to detain him.

August waited and waited but got no answer. Cornelia was sick and tired of the whole affair; she was twisting herself this way and that and keeping a good distance away from him. He attempted to do as he had done before and made a grasp at her; he was unsuccessful, however, as she stepped beyond his reach. “You’re to leave me be, do you hear!” she said sharply.

No help for him, but he begged her further, asked what harm it would do, were she simply to sit on his lap for a little — they were as good as alone, no one should see. . . .

“I will not sit on your lap!” she said. “And you needn’t try to get me to!”

That wasn’t what everyone said. There were, for instance, the girls at the Manor — they would be more than glad to get him.

“All right, then there’s no reason to feel sorry for you!”

Hendrik entered the room. He must have torn himself away.

“It’s a good thing you came,” said Cornelia.

“What? How’s that?” he asked.

“I say no more,” she replied and clung to him closely and made up to him.

August rose from his chair and was ready to depart. He was now annoyed to find Hendrik on the way to cut out Benjamin and he said: “It isn’t right of you to be so free with your love, Cornelia! You don’t seem to realize that the banns are to be spoken in church for — you and that Benjamin.”

“I didn’t promise him anything,” answered Cornelia. “Don’t you believe what he says, Hendrik!”

On the way home August did not feel for a moment that his case was in any way futile — his hope seemed to spring immortal. She had held his cane across her knees, she had even said that she liked his music. . . .

Aase steps from behind a clump of bushes and stations herself in his path.

As though she were filth and sweepings he might somehow get on his shoes, he makes to go carefully around her.

Whereupon she utters some word, makes a few foolish gestures, calls down a curse upon his head, spits, and delivers herself of all the hocus-pocus with which she had gone about frightening folk there in their homes.

That odious creature! But why should he take her seriously? Just why, pray! Rather he will treat her as a joke, haha, he will simply laugh at her and permit himself to be hugely amused. “Hi there, you old bitch, you! So you’re out messing again, are you? Crawling around to the different farms after a few scraps to keep yourself alive with, are you! I’m sorry for you, Aase, but I hope you don’t mind if I laugh when I see you! Hahaha! You’re so stiff and dried up! I suppose I could help you out with a thing or two, but I wouldn’t want to dirty my fingers by touching you. No. You’re the kind of a thing God never gave us a word for, that’s how low you are! Peace be with you!”

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/hamsun/knut/h23r/chapter29.html

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