Sunday, October 03, 2010

She had never seen such a thing!

I waited on the shore to see which boat Edwarda chose, and made up my
mind to go in the other one myself. Suddenly she called me. I looked at
her in surprise; her face was flushed. Then she came up to me, held out
her hand, and said tenderly:

"Thank you for the feathers. You will come in the boat with me, won't
you?"

"If you wish it," I said.

We got into the boat, and she sat down beside me on the same seat, her
knee touching mine. I looked at her, and she glanced at me for a moment
in return. I began to feel myself repaid for that bitter day, and was
growing happy again, when she suddenly changed her position, turned her
back to me, and began talking to the Doctor, who was sitting at the
rudder.

For a full quarter of an hour I did not exist for her. Then I did
something I repent of, and have not yet forgotten. Her shoe fell off: I
snatched it up and flung it far out into the water, for pure joy that
she was near, or from some impulse to make myself remarked, to remind
her of my existence--I do not know. It all happened so suddenly I did
not think, only felt that impulse.

The ladies set up a cry. I myself was as if paralyzed by what I had
done, but what was the good of that? It was done. The Doctor came to my
help; he cried "Row," and steered towards the shoe. And the next moment
the boatman had caught hold of the shoe just as it had filled with water
and was sinking; the man's arm was wet up to the elbow. Then there was a
shout of "Hurra" from many in the boats, because the shoe was saved.

I was deeply ashamed, and felt that my face changed color and winced, as
I wiped the shoe with my handkerchief. Edwarda took it without a word.
Not till a little while after did she say:

"I never saw such a thing!"

"No, did you ever?" I said. And I smiled and pulled myself together,
making as if I had played that trick for some particular reason--as if
there were something behind it. But what could there be? The Doctor
looked at me, for the first time, contemptuously. 
 
From PAN by Knut Hamsun, translated
by W. W. Worster  

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