Friday, October 01, 2010

If you fudge a little...

I upset my glass, and felt ashamed, and stood up.

"There--I have upset my glass," I said.

Edwarda burst out laughing, and answered:

"Well, we can see that."

Everyone assured me laughingly that it did not matter. They gave me a
towel to wipe myself with, and we went on with the game. Soon it was
eleven o'clock.

I felt a vague displeasure at Edwarda's laugh. I looked at her, and
found that her face had become insignificant, hardly even pretty. At
last Herr Mack broke off the game, saying that his assistants must go to
bed; then he leaned back on the sofa and began talking about putting up
a sign in front of his place. He asked my advice about it. What colour
did I think would be best? I was not interested, and answered "black,"
without thinking at all. And Herr Mack at once agreed:

"Black, yes--exactly what I had been thinking myself. 'Salt and barrels'
in heavy black letters--that ought to look as nice as anything...
Edwarda, isn't it time you were going to bed?"

Edwarda rose, shook hands with us both, said good-night, and left the
room. We sat on. We talked of the railway that had been finished last
year, and of the first telegraph line. "Wonder when we shall have the
telegraph up here."

Pause.

"It's like this," said Herr Mack. "Time goes on, and here am I,
six-and-forty, and hair and beard gone grey. You might see me in the
daytime and say I was a young man, but when the evening comes along, and
I'm all alone, I feel it a good deal. I sit here mostly playing
patience. It works out all right as a rule, if you fudge a little.
Haha!"

"If you fudge a little?" I asked.

From PAN by Knut Hamsun, translated
by W. W. Worster

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