Page:Hunger (Hamsun).djvu/205

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189
Hunger

We reached Carl Johann. She said: "Now we won't go any farther," and we returned through University Street. When we arrived at the fountain once more I slackened my pace a little; I knew that I could not go any farther with her.

"Well, now you must turn back here," she said, and stopped.

"Yes, I suppose I must."

But a second after she thought I might as well go as far as the door with her. Gracious me, there couldn't be anything wrong in that, could there?

"No," I replied.

But when we were standing at the door all my misery confronted me clearly. How was one to keep up one's courage when one was so broken down? Here I stood before a young lady, dirty, ragged, torn, disfigured by hunger, unwashed, and only half-clad; it was enough to make one sink into the earth. I shrank into myself, bent my head involuntarily, and said:

"May I not meet you any more then?"

I had no hope of being permitted to see her again. I almost wished for a sharp No, that would pull me together a bit and render me callous.