Page:Hunger (Hamsun).djvu/180

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"No," I answered.

But I was conscious that I stood in a sorry plight in face of this unique street jade, and I made up my mind to save appearances at least.

"What is your name?" I inquired. "Mary, eh? Well, listen to me now, Mary!" and I set about explaining my behaviour. The girl grew more and more astonished in measure as I proceeded. Had she then believed that I, too, was one of those who went about the street at night and ran after little girls? Did she really think so badly of me? Had I perhaps said anything rude to her from the beginning? Did one behave as I had done when one was actuated by any bad motive? Briefly, in so many words, I had accosted her, and accompanied her those few paces, to see how far she would go on with it. For the rest, my name was So-and-so—Pastor So-and-so. "Goodnight; depart, and sin no more!" With these words I left her.

I rubbed my hands with delight over my happy notion, and soliloquised aloud, "What a joy there is in going about doing good actions." Perhaps I had given this fallen creature an upward impulse for her whole life; saved her, once for all, from destruction, and she would