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(1921) Author: Sigrid Undset
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“Not at all, but you do not know us well enough yet, and
we don’t know you.”

“I am slow at making acquaintances — in fact, I never
really get to know people. I ought not to have come tonight,
when you were kind enough to ask me. Perhaps one needs
training to enjoy oneself too,” he said, with a short laugh.

“Of course one does.” He could hear from her voice that
she was smiling.

“I was twenty-five when I started and, you can take it from
me, I had no easy time at first.”

“You? I thought that you artists always. ... For that
matter, I did not think you were twenty-five or near it.”

“I am, thank goodness, and considerably more.”

“Do you thank Heaven for that? And I, a man, for every
year that drops from me as it were into eternity, without having
brought me anything but the humiliation of finding that
nobody has any use for me — I ——” He stopped suddenly,
terrified. He heard that his voice trembled, and he concluded
that the wine had gone to his head, since he could speak like
that to a woman he did not even know. But in spite of his
shyness he went on: “It seems quite hopeless. My father
has told me about the young men of his time, about their eager
discussions and their great illusions. I have never had a single
illusion to talk about all these years, that now are gone, lost,
never to return.”

“You have no right to say that, Mr. Gram. Not one year
of one’s life is wasted, as long as you have not reached a point
where suicide is the only way out. I don’t believe that the
old generation, those from the time of the great illusions, were
better off than we. The dreams of their youth stripped life
bare for them. We young people, most of the ones I know,
have started life without illusions. We were thrown into the
struggle for existence almost before we were grown up, and
from the first we have looked at life with open eyes, expecting

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