Page:Hunger (Hamsun).djvu/237

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221
Hunger

pillory. I could have flung myself down in the street and begged him to walk over me, tread on my face. I don't even bid him good-evening.

Perhaps the "Commandor" guesses that something is amiss with me. He slackens his pace a little, and I say, in order to stop him, "I would have called upon you long ago with something, but nothing has come yet!"

"Indeed?" he replies in an interrogative tone. "You haven't got it finished, then?"

"No, it didn't get finished."

My eyes by this time are filled with tears at his friendliness, and I cough with a bitter effort to regain my composure. The "Commandor" tweaks his nose and looks at me.

"Have you anything to live on in the meantime?" he questions.

"No," I reply. "I haven't that either; I haven't eaten anything to-day, but . . . "

"The Lord preserve you, man, it will never do for you to go and starve yourself to death," he exclaims, feeling in his pocket.

This causes a feeling of shame to awake in me, and I stagger over to the wall and hold on to it. I see him finger in his purse, and he hands me half-a-sovereign.