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188

(1921) Author: Sigrid Undset
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He sat quiet for a while, looking down; then said almost in
a whisper:

“Great or small, it is happiness to know somebody of whom
one thinks only good, about whom one can say: God give her
happiness, for she deserves it — give her all that I never had.
She is pure and beautiful, warm-hearted and sweet, talented
and kind. It means happiness to me, dear Jenny, to be able to
pray like this for you. No; it is nothing to be afraid of, little
one.”

He had risen, and she rose too, making a movement as if
she were afraid he would come nearer. Gram stopped and
smiled:

“How could you help seeing it — you who are so clever.
I thought you saw it before I understood it myself. It has
come quite naturally. My life is running its course towards
old age, inactivity, darkness, death, and I knew that I should
never reach what I have longed for all my life. Then I met
you. You are to me the most glorious woman I have ever
known; you had the same ideals I once had, and you were on
the way to attain them. How could I help crying out in my
heart: God help her to succeed. Do not let her be wasted as
I have been!

“You were so sweet to me; you came to see me in my den,
and you told me about yourself. You listened to me, you
understood, and your beautiful eyes were so full of sympathy,
so soft and loving. Dearest, are you crying?” He seized
both her hands and pressed them passionately to his lips:

“Don’t cry, dear; you must not. Why do you cry? You
are shivering — tell me why you are crying like this?”

“It is all so sad,” she sobbed.

“Sit down here.” He was on his knees before her — for a
second he rested his forehead against her knee.

“Do not cry because of me. Do you think for a moment I
wish that I had never met you? If you have loved, and you

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