Page:Hunger (Hamsun).djvu/320

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Hunger was waging a fierce battle in me at this moment, and I was suffering greatly. Whilst I sit thus and look out into space, a figure becomes little by little clear to my fixed stare. At last I can distinguish it perfectly plainly, and I recognise it. It is that of the cake-vendor who sits habitually near the chemist's under the sign of the elephant. I give a start, sit half-upright on the seat, and begin to consider. Yes, it was quite correct—the same woman before the same table on the same spot! I whistle a few times and snap my fingers, rise from my seat, and make for the chemist's. No nonsense at all! What the devil was it to me if it was the wages of sin, or well-earned Norwegian huckster pieces of silver from Kongsberg? I wasn't going to be abused; one might die of too much pride. . . .

I go on to the corner, take stock of the woman, and come to a standstill before her. I smile, nod as to an acquaintance, and shape my words as if it were a foregone conclusion that I would return sometime.

"Good-day," say I; "perhaps you don't recognise me again."

"No," she replied slowly, and looks at me.