Page:Hunger (Hamsun).djvu/177

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161
Hunger

movements of every one of the passers-by, the dim light of the gas lamps, the quiet pregnant night, all commence to affect me—this air, that is laden with whispers, embraces, trembling admissions, concessions, half-uttered words and suppressed cries. A number of cats are declaring their love with loud yells in Blomquist's doorway. And I did not possess even a florin! It was a misery, a wretchedness without parallel to be so impoverished. What humiliation, too; what disgrace! I began again to think about the poor widow's last mite, that I would have stolen a schoolboy's cap or handkerchief, or a beggar's wallet, that I would have brought to a rag-dealer without more ado, and caroused with the proceeds.

In order to console myself—to indemnify myself in some measure—I take to picking all possible faults in the people who glide by. I shrug my shoulders contemptuously, and look slightingly at them according as they pass. These easily-pleased, confectionery-eating students, who fancy they are sowing their wild oats in truly Continental style if they tickle a sempstress under the ribs! These young bucks, bank clerks, merchants, flâneurs—who would not disdain a sailor's wife; blowsy Molls,