Pan, by Knut Hamsun


The mail-packet was to sail in the afternoon.

I went down to the quay. My things were already on board. Herr Mack pressed my hand, and said encouragingly that it would be nice weather, pleasant weather; he would not mind making the trip himself in such weather. The Doctor came walking down. Edwarda was with him; I felt my knees beginning to tremble.

“Came to see you safely off,” said the Doctor.

I thanked him.

Edwarda looked me straight in the face and said:

“I must thank you for your dog.” She pressed her lips together; they were quite white. Again she had called me “Eder.” [Footnote: The most formal mode of address.]

“When does the boat go?” the Doctor asked a man.

“In half an hour.”

I said nothing.

Edwarda was turning restlessly this way and that.

“Doctor, don’t you think we may as well go home again?” she said. “I have done what I came for to do.”

“You have done what you came to do,” said the Doctor.

She laughed, humiliated by his everlasting correction, and answered:

“Wasn’t that almost what I said?”

“No,” he answered shortly.

I looked at him. The little man stood there cold and firm; he had made a plan, and he carried it out to the last. And if he lost after all? In any case, he would never show it; his face never betrayed him.

It was getting dusk.

“Well, good-bye,” I said. “And thanks for — everything.”

Edwarda looked at me dumbly. Then she turned her head and stood looking out at the ship.

I got into the boat. Edwarda was still standing on the quay. When I got on board, the Doctor called out “Good-bye!” I looked over to the shore. Edwarda turned at the same time and walked hurriedly away from the quay, the Doctor far behind. That was the last I saw of her.

A wave of sadness went through my heart . . .

The vessel began to move; I could still see Herr Mack’s sign: “Salt and Barrels.” But soon it disappeared. The moon and the stars came out; the hills towered round about, and I saw the endless woods. There is the mill; there, there stood my hut, that was burned; the big grey stone stands there all alone on the site of the fire. Iselin, Eva . . .

The night of the northern lights spreads over valley and hill.

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