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183

(1921) Author: Sigrid Undset
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“Of course. I am obliged to accept. They always need
money at home, as you know. Besides, I must go abroad; it is
not good for me to stay here long.”

“Do you want to go abroad?” said Gram gently, looking
down. “Well, I suppose you are; it is only natural.”

“Oh, this exhibition,” said Jenny, sitting down in the
rocking-chair — “all my pictures were painted such a long time
ago, it seems to me, even the recent ones. The sketch of the
Aventine was finished the day I met Helge, and I painted the
picture while we were together — that of Cesca as well. And
the one from Stenersgaten in your place, while I was waiting
for him to come home. I have done nothing since. Ugh!
So Helge is at work again?”

“It is only natural, my dear, that an experience like yours
should leave deeper traces in a woman.”

“Oh yes, yes — a woman; that is the whole misery of it. It
is just like a woman to become uninterested and utterly lazy
because of a love that does not even exist.”

“My dear Jenny,” said Gram, “I think it quite natural that
it should take some time for you to get over it — to get beyond
it, as it were; one always does, and then one understands that
the experience has not been in vain, but that one’s soul is the
richer for it in some way or other.”

Jenny did not reply.

“I am sure there is much you would not like to have missed
— all the happy, warm, sunny days with your friend in that
beautiful country. Am I not right?”

“Will you tell me one thing, Gert? — is it your own personal
experience that you have been able to enrich your soul, as you
say, by the incidents of your life?”

He gave a start as if hurt and surprised at her brutality; it
was a moment before he answered her:

“It is quite a different thing. The experiences which are
the results of sin — I don’t mean sin in the orthodox sense, but

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