Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I did nothing awkward or wrong... as far as I am aware...

All the evening I had a bitter feeling that I should not have come to
that party. My coming was hardly noticed at all, they were all so
occupied with one another; Edwarda hardly bade me welcome. I began
drinking hard because I knew I was unwelcome; and yet I did not go away.

Herr Mack smiled a great deal and put on his most amiable expression; he
was in evening dress, and looked well. He was now here, now there,
mingling with his half a hundred guests, dancing one dance now and then,
joking and laughing. There were secrets lurking in his eyes.

A whirl of music and voices sounded through the house. Five of the rooms
were occupied by the guests, besides the big room where they were
dancing. Supper was over when I arrived. Busy maids were running to and
fro with glasses and wines, brightly polished coffee-pots, cigars and
pipes, cakes and fruit. There was no sparing of anything. The
chandeliers in the rooms were filled with extra-thick candles that had
been made for the occasion; the new oil lamps were lit as well. Eva was
helping in the kitchen; I caught a glimpse of her. To think that Eva
should be here too!

The Baron received a great deal of attention, though he was quiet and
modest and did not put himself forward. He, too, was in evening dress;
the tails of his coat were miserably crushed from the packing. He talked
a good deal with Edwarda, followed her with his eyes, drank with her,
and called her Fröken, as he did the daughters of the Dean and of the
district surgeon. I felt the same dislike of him as before, and could
hardly look at him without turning my eyes away with a wretched silly
grimace. When he spoke to me, I answered shortly and pressed my lips
together after.

I happen to remember one detail of that evening. I stood talking to a
young lady, a fair-haired girl; and I said something or told some story
that made her laugh. It can hardly have been anything remarkable, but
perhaps, in my excited state, I told it more amusingly than I remember
now--at any rate, I have forgotten it. But when I turned round, there
was Edwarda standing behind me. She gave me a glance of recognition.

Afterwards I noticed that she drew the fair girl aside to find out what
I had said. I cannot say how that look of Edwarda's cheered me, after I
had been going about from room to room like a sort of outcast all the
evening; I felt better at once, and spoke to several people, and was
entertaining. As far as I am aware, I did nothing awkward or wrong... 
 
From PAN by Knut Hamsun, translated
by W. W. Worst

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