Pan, by Knut Hamsun


Leaves were yellowing; the potato-plants had grown to full height and stood in flower; the shooting season came round again; I shot hare and ptarmigan and grouse; one day I shot an eagle. Calm, open sky, cool nights, many clear, clear tones and dear sounds in the woods and fields. The earth was resting, vast and peaceful . . .

“I have not heard anything from Herr Mack about the two guillemots I shot,” I said to the Doctor.

“You can thank Edwarda for that,” he said. “I know. I heard that she set herself against it.”

“I do not thank her for it,” said I . . .

Indian summer — Indian summer. The stars lay like belts in through the yellowing woods; a new star came every day. The moon showed like a shadow; a shadow of gold dipped in silver . . .

“Heaven help you, Eva, are you married?”

“Didn’t you know that?”

“No, I didn’t know.”

She pressed my hand silently.

“God help you, child, what are we to do now?” “What you will. Perhaps you are not going away just yet; I will be happy as long as you are here.”

“No, Eva.”

“Yes, yes — only as long as you are here.”

She looked forsaken, kept pressing my hand.

“No, Eva. Go — never any more!”

* * * * *

Nights pass and days come — three days already since this last talk. Eva comes by with a load. How much wood has that child carried home from the forest this summer alone?

“Set the load down, Eva, and let me see if your eyes are as blue as ever.”

Her eyes were red.

“No — smile again, Eva! I can resist no more; I am your, I am yours . . . ”

Evening. Eva sings, I hear her singing, and a warmth goes through me.

“You are singing this evening, child?”

“Yes, I am happy.”

And being smaller than I, she jumps up a little to put her arms round my neck.

“But, Eva, you have scratched your hands. Herregud! oh, if you had not scratched them so!”

“It doesn’t matter.”

Her face beams wonderfully.

“Eva, have you spoken to Herr Mack?”

“Yes, once.”

“What did he say, and what did you?”

“He is so hard with us now; he makes my husband work day and night down at the quay, and keeps me at all sorts of jobs as well. He has ordered me to do man’s work now.”

“Why does he do that?”

Eva looks down.

“Why does he do that, Eva?”

“Because I love you.”

“But how could he know?”

“I told him.”


“Would to Heaven he were not so harsh with you, Eva.”

“But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter at all now.”

And her voice is like a little tremulous song in the woods.

* * * * *

The woods more yellow still. It is drawing towards autumn now; a few more stars have come in the sky, and from now on the moon looks like a shadow of silver dipped in gold. There is no cold; nothing, only a cool stillness and a flow of life in the woods. Every tree stands in silent thought. The berries are ripe.

Then — the twenty-second of August and the three iron nights. [Footnote: Joernnætter. Used of the nights in August when the first frosts appear.]

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55