Page:Hunger (Hamsun).djvu/158

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He shook his head persistently; kept on shaking it after I had seized the handle of the door. "Good-evening," I said. It was not any hint from on high, thought I, and I smiled bitterly. If it came to that, I could give as good a hint as that myself. I dragged on one block after the other; now and then I rested on a step. If only I could escape being locked up. The terror of that cell pursued me all the time; left me no peace. Whenever I caught sight of a policeman in my path I staggered into a side street to avoid meeting him. Now, then, we will count a hundred steps, and try our luck again! There must be a remedy sometime. . . .

It was a little yarn-shop—a place in which I had never before set foot; a solitary man behind the counter (there was an office beyond, with a china plate on the door) was arranging things on the shelves and counter. I waited till the last customer had left the shop—a young lady with dimples. How happy she looked! I was not backward in trying to make an impression with the pin holding my coat together. I turned, and my chest heaved.

"Do you wish for anything?" queried the shopman.