Page:Hunger (Hamsun).djvu/159

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143
Hunger

"Is the chief in?" I asked.

"He is gone for a mountain tour in Jotunhejmen," he replied. Was it anything very particular, eh?

"It concerns a couple of pence for food," I said, and I tried to smile. "I am hungry, and haven't a fraction."

"Then you're just about as rich as I am," he remarked, and began to tidy some packages of wool.

"Ah, don't turn me away—not now!" I said on the moment, with a cold feeling over my whole body. "I am really nearly dead with hunger; it is now many days since I have eaten anything."

With perfect gravity, without saying a word, he began to turn his pockets inside out, one by one. Would I not believe him, upon his word? What?

"Only a halfpenny," said I, "and you shall have a penny back in a couple of days."

"My dear man, do you want me to steal out of the till?" he queried, impatiently.

"Yes," said I. "Yes; take a halfpenny out of the till."

"It won't be I that will do that," he observed;