Sunday, October 17, 2010

Herregud!

It was autumn. The summer was gone. It passed as quickly as it had come;
ah, how quickly it was gone! The days were cold now. I went out shooting
and fishing--sang songs in the woods. And there were days with a thick
mist that came floating in from the sea, damming up everything behind a
wall of murk.

One such day something happened. I lost my way, blundered through into
the woods of the annexe, and came to the Doctor's house. There were
visitors there--the young ladies I had met before--young people dancing,
just like madcap foals.

A carriage came rolling up and stopped outside the gate; Edwarda was in
it. She started at sight of me. "Good-bye," I said quietly. But the
Doctor held me back. Edwarda was troubled by my presence at first, and
looked down when I spoke; afterwards, she bore with me, and even went so
far as to ask me a question about something or other. She was strikingly
pale; the mist lay grey and cold upon her face. She did not get out of
the carriage.

"I have come on an errand," she said. "I come from the parish church,
and none of you were there to-day; they said you were here. I have been
driving for hours to find you. We are having a little party
to-morrow--the Baron is going away next week--and I have been told to
invite you all. There will be dancing too. To-morrow evening."

They all bowed and thanked her.

To me, she went on:

"Now, don't stay away, will you? Don't send a note at the last minute
making some excuse." She did not say that to any of the others. A little
after she drove away.

I was so moved by this unexpected meeting that for a little while I was
secretly mad with joy. Then I took leave of the Doctor and his guests
and set off for home. How gracious she was to me, how gracious she was
to me! What could I do for her in return? My hands felt helpless; a
sweet cold went through my wrists. _Herregud!_ I thought to myself, here
am I with my limbs hanging helpless for joy; I cannot even clench my
hands; I can only find tears in my eyes for my own helplessness. What is
to be done about it?

It was late in the evening when I reached home. I went round by the quay
and asked a fisherman if the post-packet would not be in by to-morrow
evening. Alas, no, the post-packet would not be in till some time next
week. I hurried up to the hut and began looking over my best suit. I
cleaned it up and made it look decent; there were holes in it here and
there, and I wept and darned them.

When I had finished, I lay down on the bed. This rest lasted only a
moment. Then a thought struck me, and I sprang up and stood in the
middle of the floor, dazed. The whole thing was just another trick! I
should not have been invited if I had not happened to be there when the
others were asked. And, moreover, she had given me the plainest possible
hint to stay away--to send a note at the last moment, making some
excuse... 
 
From PAN by Knut Hamsun, translated
by W. W. Worster 
 

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