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35

(1921) Author: Sigrid Undset
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at the two young girls, Jenny and Francesca. He knew their
names now, but little more. And none of them knew what it
meant to him to sit there, what he had left behind by coming,
the painful struggles, the conquering of obstacles and the
breaking of bonds that had held him. He felt strangely happy,
almost proud of it, and he looked at the two women with a mild
pity. Such a little thing as Cesca — and Jenny — young and
high-spirited, with ready, confident opinions behind their white,
small foreheads. Two young girls treading an even path of
life, with here and there a small stone perhaps to move away,
but who knew nothing about a road like his. What would they
do, poor girls, if they had to try it? He started when Heggen
touched his shoulder, and blushed, for he had been dozing.

“You have had a nap, too, I see,” said Heggen.

Out in the street the high, quiet houses slept with closed
shutters. A tram drove up in a side street, a cab rattled over
the bridge, and one or two cold and sleepy stragglers walked
on the pavement.

They turned into a street from where they could see the
obelisk in front of Trinita-dei-Monti — it stood white against
the dark hollies of Pincio. No living being was to be seen and
no sound heard but their own steps on the iron bridge and the
ripple of a fountain in a yard. Far away the murmur of the
waters on Monte Pinco came through the stillness. Helge
recognized it, and as he walked towards it, a growing feeling
of joy filled him, as if his pleasure from the previous evening
were waiting for him up there by the fountain under the hollies.

He turned to Jenny Winge, not realizing that his eyes and
his voice betrayed his feeling.

“I stood here last night and saw the sun set; it seemed so
strange to be here. I have been working for years to get here.
I had to come because of my studies. I wanted to be an
archaeologist, but I have been obliged to teach from the time I
got my degree. I have been waiting for the day when I could

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