A World of Glass

WILLIAM SANSOM “can make you see, hear, taste, touch, and smell to his order,”wrote Eudora Welty when she read South with its lustrous descriptions of the Mediterranean. From Mr. Sunsom’s new volume, The Passionate North, a collection of stories drawn from the harsh panorama of Scandinavia and the Western Isles of Scotland, the Atlantic has selected two narratives. The book will be published by Harcourt, Brace next month.


CELLS become writers. Writers are solitaries and cells are solitary: here I can sit in imposed solitude, free from my pity of solitude selfimposed, absolved from all decision and responsibility and all question of selecting diversions of the outside world. Physically I can choose practically nothing: mentally I am freer than before. I must simply sit here and serve my sentence. It was, of course, for assault.

Assault, and I think justified. This is why I refused any concession that might have been offered, and decided to let them all do with me just what they wished. I did not think it would turn out as well as this. And so, in moderate and pleasantly austere comfort, with no — or at least very little —material seduction, I can sit within these sixwalls—for here the ceiling and the floor are as much walls as the walls themselves — and let my mind and my pen run free. Not surprisingly, they run upon the course of events that led to my arrest: not upon the arrest itself, which was a small matter, but upon the emotions — and they were as strong as I will try to tell — that preceded the affair.

I shall never forget the terrible beauty of the journey to Trondheim; and the beauty of Trondheim itself. To travel to a place in circumstances of mounting beauty, mounting with no moment of regression, and then to find that after those long elating hours the destination is no dross of achievement but is even more beautiful than all the rest, that it expands about one like a great flower whose petals unfold the final, endless, steepening glory — that is an experience seldom to be enjoyed. We began at Oslo. Early morning. A great black monster of a steam train. An empty carriage with cushions of carmine velvet. And throughout the day mounted through long Norway, from slush to snow, from snow to deeper snow, proceeding both up the map and onto higher ground. Which together makes for a most pleasing sensation.

From the warm, almost the hot carriage it was invigorating and fresh to watch the snow. No fierce peaks and sharp summits to disturb a gentle skyline, but instead a good rolling of high distant hills that swam around the wide perspective with a rise and fall of waves: often these were fir-capped, when the snow-back stood fringed against the sky with short rich bristles. For this was no barren country. And all the way up the line one passed small stations, dark brown wooden stations eaved with dragons’ heads in the viking manner. The station officials wore high black fur caps, and in their black uniforms they looked like a fierce contingent of Turkestan police. The ticket collector on the train also—but his red round face and bucolic Norwegian address belied the Turk: he was always up and down the carpeted corridor outside announcing the imminence of unpronounceable stations, and when on this journey I say “we,” it is of him and the engine and myself that I speak, for I was alone at the time.

By midday we had passed through the skiing country, where, apart from the beauty of the snow, there was at certain stations a spirit of festivity as red-capped skiers left the train and sought sleighs to take them out to their snowy places of holiday. But some time after that the real country began, the skies changed, a frozen magnificence charged the air with a peculiar magic. Great lakes appeared, ice-bound, their miles to the horizon furred with wide-fanning flat snow. Near the shore frozen waves lay ridged like skin under a microscope: logged on the banks piles of fresh stripped wood shone like pigskin. Icicles as thick as tree trunks hung their green glow from rock ledges, and where waterfalls had been struck solid they hung in rows like monstrous teeth; but cruelly as these were shaped, their glass made music of them; over everything the far-gleaming sun and its greening sky played strange tricks of transparency. Such a sun! It hung and traveled all day on the horizon so low that losing heat it grew in complement larger — it gleamed more than shone. It gleamed like a force of great candlepower over the wide land, turning the snow to lavender and pink, greening the icicles and greening the sky; and the sky itself receded infinitely, it became more transparent than itself, it provoked in its pale green a visible sense of infinity. Yet this was no true Arctic sun — although we were traveling near to the polar circle: it shone not on a barren land, but on a snow-laden gentle place rich with cream-colored birch and black fir. On such country its low long beam cast everything into a strange clearness — in the same way, though a thousand times clarified, that a lowering sun on a summer’s day clears and stills the air just before evening. Everything seemed set in glass, transplendent, motionlessly clear.

So the day passed as we steamed on through the snows, higher ever north. The sun set early. The last thing I can remember was the passing of a river, swift-flowing water of bottle-green that pooled and snaked down between the rocks and ice and moussed snow, disappearing one knew not whither, and in the cold air smoking. Then the light was gone, the snows were gray — and soon after we ran into a blizzard.

Three-quarters way up, three-quarters way penetrated north, and with the ominous fall of night — some ancient listening God pressed the loud pedal and sent the great pianoforte of his mountain scorn into action. Now from the warm and easy carriage nothing was to be seen: only the drive of snow hailing by, and the white steam and smoke of the forward engine driven down past the windows by the weight of the wind. Up and up, winding along the white track into a blank curtain of white: only at stations could anything be seen, and these — with their snow-swirling lamps, their dark-stamping figures, with the high-funneled great engine steaming its monstrous black iron against the snow — these could only remind me of scenes dreamed over from novels of the Russian nineteenth century.

From the warm red-covered lighted carriage one saw passing along the curtained corridor travelers in fur caps and astrakhan, ladies with white fur collars and once a curious ermine bonnet. The feeling was of Russia — for all our first impressions are allied quickly with previous knowledge, with things nearly similar — but it was not exact: for there were the names of stations passed — Hjerkinn, Kongsvoll, Driva; and there were the viking dragons uptilting like pagoda eaves from the roof-beams of each wooden station; and there was the recent memory of standing in wonder at the fine dark beauty of the retrieved viking ships themselves, abstractions of dark curved planking as beautifully draped as a classic robe, objects indeed that must take their place with the other few abstract, complete, Parthenon beauties of the world. This was Norway of Haakon and no tsarist Russia.

We steamed out of the blizzard into clear cloudhigh height. A hidden moon shone a starshine light over the snow, giving to things mysterious visibility but no exact shape. Then the train passed through the last station, and curled round towards Trondheim. There was a stirring in the corridors. People who had sat still for twelve hours rose to get their luggage out first — to save a minute. This movement I find irritating, and always swear to remain seated until the train is cleared. But as usual I became infected, started pulling at my bags, and as usual missed the sight of the entrance into my town of destination. A grinding of iron brakes, a jolt of luggage, and the train came expiring its last steam to a halt. Outside, a babel of fresh faces to receive us the stiff and weary.


THERE was not much to do that night but get to the hotel and go to bed. I had a mixed impression of crossing a river from the station, entering streets wide and squarely laid, and many of the muddled sensations with which a new town receives one. I remember a busy sense though the streets were empty, a solid feeling after the fluid day on wheels, and a sense of unconfessed astonishment that lives were really lived here all the time without one’s presence and not even in the knowledge of one’s existence. Yet perhaps because of this and because of tlie alerted nerves of journey a new city is always a place of great promise and possibility: a feeling so often punctured absolutely after a day’s acquaintance.

Next morning I parted the old lace curtains—it was a barish room, Ibsen in remnant, with a horsehair sofa and a brass lamp that might have once burned oil — parted those curtains and looked out onto the wide snow-covered street. Instantly the amazing impact came — no dragons, no dark wood! Instead a white-painted classic town! Suddenly this — at three degrees below the polar circle!

It was of course a reversal of everything expected. But it was only a beginning to the confusion that followed. I went downstairs to take a walk quickly, wearing no overcoat — and naturally after a few steps along the pavement felt it too cold and returned. Perhaps, after all, breakfast first. I asked for the restaurant. I was shown it. And again the confusion arose, for that unbelievable restaurant was a palm garden and no potted place from warmer latitudes but a real palm garden growing in real earth real big palms. I remember flipping the snow from my glove on one large tropical frond that stretched with the stealth of a bird-eating spider near my table. So. One could only sit coffeeless and muddled in such a place. Moreover, lighted Christmas trees had been placed at regular intervals among these palms and exotic plantains and the whole was turfed in an earthy basin circled with granite pillars of an oldish Nordic style. A fountain made water music in the center.

As I sat there muddled the porter came through. A gentleman to see me. A gentleman? A gentleman from the newspapers.

I was traveling unannounced. My real name was not the one by which I was generally known. All the way up through Copenhagen and Gothenburg and Oslo I had been received and interviewed. It was a necessary, and not at all times unpleasant, duty. There is a flattery about it that never entirely fails, however often the process has occurred: nevertheless it is also a duty, and as a duty it must sometimes call for the pleasure of being avoided.

It was such a pleasure that I had promised myself on this last lap of the journey before taking ship for the British Isles. But I had forgotten that the Oslo papers are read in Trondheim and, anyhow, that there is a telegraph between journalists. Perhaps it was this very stupidity that made me suddenly say “No!”: and knowing this refusal to be of little use, made me get up from the table breakfastless (it was, to give the reporter his due, eleven o’clock) and demand the backstairs exit to reach my room. There, rummaging quickly for sunglasses, a drab old scarf, and putting on my overcoat and soft hat twisted ridiculously down over my eyes, I felt myself disguised (to no one, of course, but myself) and left the room angrily just as the telephone was beginning to ring.

So here I was, some time after eleven, slipping into the side streets, all guilt on my tail, simply for the sake of avoiding a ten-minute conversation. It was absurd: yet how often one clings to such first decisions with bone-brained vigor — and it may be that obstinacy in such small matters trains one for resolution on more important principles; but I hardly think so, it is more a strength to be able to change one’s mind.

For some time walking the streets I felt myself followed, I thought everyone looked too curiously into my face, I imagined the whole town conspiring against me. Once I tried to telephone the hotel to forbid them to admit any more reporters, but the instrument, the little ∅re pieces, and the thought of the Norwegian voice answering defeated me. And soon after a small boy in the street asked me the time. I knew it was that because he pointed to a clock. I could not answer in Norwegian. The boy looked astounded, then hurt. It was a foolish moment, standing there falsely dressed and apparently unable to read a clock. Perhaps the boy lost forever what faith he had left in adults.

However, with all these confusions, the particular quality of that town surprised and exalted me. It is a small town, but the streets are wide. The streets seem wider than the houses which range them, houses of not more than two stories. These are of planked wood. Planked wood painted white, but a white grayed or creamed so by the purer white of snow, white colored as softly as some gentle shade of hand-made paper. And at the doors there are pillars of carved wood, with carved wood capitals and pediments, and the windows are set with classic regularity. There are some small palaces and there is also a royal residence, the largest wooden building in Europe, a fine white-painted low-lying mansion windowed with lavender blinds, padimented with a red regalia like a scarlet royal seal, gilded occasionally and touched with wrought iron. Then there are the great apothecaries’ houses, designated by emblems such as The Swan, throughout Scandinavia the largest of the old shops, and in themselves like small hospitals.

Trondheim has much the look of an American colonial town, with its wide perspective and wooden classic buildings — yet it is finer, and there is the snow to throw everything into greater relief; and here and there a yellow toylike tram gives an air of business. Wherever you walk, too, you come to water, for the town is nearly encircled by its lazy oil-green river Nid, bestower of the town’s old viking name Nidaros. That name in itself added a confusing charm — a false Greek word among derived Greek architectures in the snowbound north. And one must never forget the sun, lying so low, beaming everywhere its curious inexact light.


IT WAS after I had been walking for almost an hour that I met the girl. I remember leaving the streets — which I had already traversed more than once, for the town is pleasantly limited — and deciding to have a good look at the river-mouth harbor. So once more down the broad Munkegaten to the waterside wharves. And I remember then being glad of those ridiculous sunglasses, because at every gap between houses, when one was walking laterally to the sun, the great candle-mass hidden below rooflevel shone out with tremendous power; at eye-level it struck just as though one had chosen to look the sun in the eye, it nearly knocked one down.

Resting on something — a barrel, a smoked-fish crate, a wood railing? — I looked out over the packed fleet. I remember coughing—and then feeling both self-conscious of the noise and of the mist of my breath on the air, for exactly then I noticed her standing quite near. I felt she might have mistaken this for the beginning of an intrusion. But it was she who intruded. She moved along nearer me — for she also had been simply standing and looking, and said pleasantly something in Norwegian.

I stuttered back: “Kan ikke Norsk—I cannot speak Norwegian, I am English.”

“Oh, you speak English? I too. We all speak English. You are English?”

“Yes, I am on my way to England.”

“From Trondheim? There is another Englishman here in Trondheim now, he came yesterday, a famous actor. You know him?”

It is easy to adopt the disguised lie, difficult to speak the lie direct. But after a suspended moment, I did. I said I had not seen myself. And what a beautiful morning it was.

She answered immediately, with a strange enthusiasm: “It is, it is. That’s what I said first. The sun isn’t warm but the light is lovely. The ships so still. . . .”

For a while she went on like this. She seemed too enthusiastic about the weather, strangely so for a modern-looking girl — but then I remembered how all Scandinavians were devout lovers of nature, they love with an elemental love not far removed from their ancient sun and forest worship.

“I do like how open it is, and how gentle the hills round — no steep mountains . . .”

“Then you are on a visit too?”

“Oh no, I live here. I’ve always lived here.” She too was wearing sunglasses, but I could see from the high lift of her cheekbones that her eyes would have that curious Mongolian tilt so fascinating among the Norwegians with their china-blue eyes. “And have you seen our statue to King Olav?”

“One could hardly miss it. Yes, it’s most striking.”

“And our cathedral?”

“I am against the cathedral. Too much fuss is made of it — few people speak of what is much more beautiful, the town itself and its elegant houses.”

“. . . that’s the first time I’ve heard — but I think you are right. And the warehouses, did you see? . . .”

Her hair was blonde. She wore one of the youthcaps, a red woolen thing with a becoming tassel. Round her neck was a soft wool scarf of Norwegian pattern, a black spiky design on a plaster-gray. Her skin against the wool looked fresh and soft. I went on talking. “The warehouses, yes. Perhaps that view from the little bridge down the Nid to the sea is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen, ever.”

“. . . the warehouses lining up on either side on their stilts, we used to call them giants . . .”

“But such extraordinary colors — olive, maroon, dark ocher, they’re the colors of oil paint, of a painting of Breughel’s . . .”

“You like paintings? I have not seen many.”

Her coat was pale blue, smartly shapeless. She wore fur-trimmed boots, and I could just see above them the beginning of woolen stockings on legs slim above the fur.

“So you haven’t traveled much?”

“I have never been away from Trondheim. Never.”

“Don’t you want to?”

“No. Once. Not now.”

“ But aren’t you curious, don’t you wonder what the rest of the world’s like? Your own country? Oslo? The North Cape?”

“I couldn’t do without Trondheim. You see . . .”

She paused; I thought she was thinking how to explain herself. But then I saw her lips quietly smiling; she seemed to be listening and then turned to look at the road behind. A horse and sledge were passing. The horse was white, a short long-maned horse sturdy as a pony: it jingled its harness bells at an easy walking-pace, the sledge carried two oil-drums painted bright brown.

“There you are,” she said. “The horse! In Oslo it’s all cars? Besides, I have to stay here because of my husband.”

I remembered feeling then a sudden disappointment. It was not as if I had thought definitely towards that girl: it was more simply a sudden lowering of the pleasant tension that exists always, with no conscious endeavor, at a fresh meeting of the sexes. But there. She had a husband. One felt a sensation of having been robbed. Yet slight it passed, and of course I said something like: “Well of course that’s a different matter. Your home’s your home, you’re right, no wanderlust can compare with building a home with the right person, the person you love —”

“When do you leave?”

“What? Leave — oh leave here? Tomorrow, the boat.”

“He’s not the right person.”


My face felt that if I looked at her it would show too dramatic a concern, something too intimate and curious. She went instantly on: “I don’t love him. As you go tomorrow — I can say that. It’s good to speak sometimes, you rarely can. No, I don’t love him.”


AS SHE went on, speaking in so even a voice, as if inquiring into herself, I could again look at her. Her soft and beautiful face — young, in her early twenties — had the amused look of reminiscence, whether the thought is amusing or not, a softening play of the mouth to accompany the play of thought. And then suddenly she broke off, and looked over at the ships, at the pale low railway station islanded out in the harbor, at the sky beyond: “I used to think the station looked like a palace out there with the sun gold along its roof. It’s golden now, isn’t it? And the sky green between the masts?”

I laughed.

“Isn’t it? Why, you can see it is.”

I found myself taking off my glasses to see more clearly the colors. And then realized and corrected myself: “But of course, your glasses. No one can see properly in the damn things. Half the beauty of life goes, and half the world seems to wear them. Things look like a thunderstorm or a rose-tinted hell. Why do we wear them!”

“Why? Why indeed.”

Then she took off her spectacles. She turned her face full to me, and I saw for the first time her china-blue eyes. They stared full blue into mine. I had been talking more quickly about the dark spectacles — when she had said she had no love for this husband my spirits had briefly, absurdly risen. A male cunning had asserted itself, a predatory wile that leaped on the question—was she then in some way offering herself to me? Wishful thinking made it so. I had talked faster, dressing the moment to cover my true feelings. And when she took the glasses off I was so disturbed, for it cut against careful grains of reserve, that I must have seemed to have asked her to take them off: and she had assented, that made it no less embarrassing. In fact she had spoken to me first, she was assenting too quickly. Though a man might dream of such affairs proceeding without the delays of propriety, when it happens he does not quite know how to adjust himself.

But delighted beyond all that I looked down into her face, into her eyes with expectation.

She was smiling up at me. But it was no smile of invitation: it was instead a wise smile — and though her freshness of appearance made this seem unbelievable — almost a sneer. I felt immediately: Here we go. The old game. Lead him on. Get him going. Then laugh—for you knew all the time.

But as I thought this — I was looking still into her eyes and saw then that they were suffering, there was a mist of pain in them. So that smile of wisdom was one of knowledge of some pain, of perhaps how tired she looked, and of a rejection of sympathy. Suddenly I saw that she was not looking into my eyes at all — she was looking at my forehead, glazed, asleep, set dreaming. And even then there crossed my mind other possibilities — the nymphomaniac glaze, powerless and overpowering; the endreamed set stare of someone weak in the head. But then she nodded, a solemn conspiring slow nod. And I saw exactly what these eyes were. They were glass. She was blind.

“You see?” “I never dreamed — ”

“There it is. And he did it.”

The eyes, infinite in their dream, turned a little away, she stared straight into the sun. I could see now that the flexing sensibility of her lips moved from a reflection of other senses working — senses of sound, of the touch of air, of other proximities ordinarily unperceived. Her eyes fixed, her face was the more alive. Then — as though the act of play were over — she resumed those dark spectacles. And became visibly as other women.

I could not stop myself—there was hardly a need, since she had first wished to talk of it — from asking: “He did it? But how, an accident? Some dreadful accident?”

“On purpose.”

“But —”

“If you like, accidentally. He was drunk.”

“But how could he . . .”

“With a broken bottle.”


SHE must have felt then that so shocking a statement would have made me angry: an anger to which she may have been well used. For without pausing she drifted on, easily, with the same strange smile of reminiscence. She might have been talking of a well-loved garden. “You mustn’t mind if I talk so. It’s a little forbidden at home, with my friends. It is awkward, you see.”

“ Yes. But — why — ”

“Oh really it is simple. It was I suppose my fault also: I must not forget that. You see, he was away on his ship: it was midsummer, you know that is a gay time with us. To cut the long story short — I was a bad girl. It was sudden, a foolish thing: it never occurred again. But there — he found out.”

She paused now, it seemed as if she were frowning to remember. But there was no exact frown: “He got drunk. He was proud, he was upset and mad. He came home and held my arms, tight. I was frightened, I got away and I threw something at him. It was heavy and it hurt him: I think that must have jolted his mind — perhaps he thought he was in a real fight, somewhere else, with men, I don’t know. Anyway — then the bottle, it was done in a second. He broke it in the same movement as he cut me with it, I remember his arm coming, it came across, I don’t think he ever meant to stab, it was just perhaps unlucky. However — as you see . . .”

She paused. Her lips suddenly lost all movement, her face grew blank. In remembering she had come across a moment too strong for her. There was nothing to say. At such times one can be quick to feel pity, sorrow, but unable to make the move of sympathy. The deeper the feeling, the more impossible this.

But she continued: “Of course he came to his senses. I was sent to hospital. There was no chance.”

“But then why do you stay?”

“How can I go . . . he is so sorry.”

“But — ”

“He feels he must make this up to me. It’s all he lives for now.”

“Then you’ve forgiven him?”

“No. I don’t believe in forgiveness. Forgiveness, forgetting. I have heard it so much, an old . . . distinction? ‘I forgive but I never forget.’ Or ‘I forget, but I don’t forgive.’ None of such things is true. You simply grow used to a changed way of things. Time takes the sharpness away. But you are not proof against your own moods. So sometimes — not often — but sometimes — I become angry and for a time I do not forgive. Then again, in a happy mood, when things are sweet, I not only forgive but say to myself this forgiveness. But for the most I do nothing, neither remember nor blame, neither forgive nor quite forget. I simply do not care. It was four years ago.”

I thought “four years” — a short time. But then four years at twenty are long.

“Still, you don’t love him. You could stay away.”

“He feels he must make it up to me.”

“But if you say you don’t want it?”

“How could I?”

She turned those dark glasses on to me, glasses of the sportswoman and the beach. Her voice had altered. With three words it lost its evenness, its reasonability: then broke suddenly deep, as words felt deeply do, as if searching deep down in the breast for the heart which bore them. “How could I? He’d think I had gone away to leave him free. He’d think I was unburdening him. He’d have no more way of making up for what he did. He’d be left alone with his conscience . . . I could never do that to him.”

There was nothing to say to this. I searched hard for an answer, one must answer when looking at a blind face. I made some noise of affirmation, only that, while my own eyes searched the harbor before me. The small steam fishing boats lying still, never rocking, smooth on the river water: their sides varnished over natural wood, cleaner thus than other vessels; and themselves set in glass with their bright brass and varnish shining in that transparent northern air. The sky above so distant, glassy blue as the flesh of a sea-birds’ egg. From one side hammering came, the curious painted pale brown and apple green of a liner rose above the houses from a hidden dock. A bird, black and white, strutted among the fish crates, pretending to be a penguin. I could only think of the usual dread of mutilation, the story as often told—the dread of the mutilated that their affliction should imprison the loved one. And this girl . . .

Her voice was again calm, she was smiling: “In any case, I cannot leave Trondheim. It’s the only place I’ve seen, it’s the only place I can still see. . . .”


LATER I asked whether there was some small restaurant where we could lunch. I watched her fingers select with more precision than a sighted person the numbers on the automatic dial when she telephoned that she would be out for lunch: her black, white-rimmed spectacles bent looking at the dial. It was embarrassing to be so near a woman who could not see; I found I could look closely at, say, the very fine hair at her temples without worrying about the expression on my own face. I could look at whatever I chose; and for this reason I particularly did not—I had been already punished enough for my presumption of the morning.

Then throughout the afternoon we explored and examined that strange city. It can only be remembered as a dream — no ecstatic dream, but a time suspended from reality, caught in a mirror, never properly experienced. We did not walk far. We stayed down by the quay, walked a little against the cold in the very narrow streets running back between the great wood-gabled warehouses, but always returned through the snow to the ships.

So what I saw of Trondheim was through her eyes. She behind the blind glasses evoked again for me the picture, a picture more familiar and more sensitive, of the streets I had walked that morning. I saw them in fact more freshly—as if I had worn no tinted glasses — the pale beauty of white houses against the whiter snow, the lavender blinds of the great planked palace, the extraordinary gabled warehouses lining the river on stilts and painted the deep oily reds and greens and browns of a Breughel painting picked out with snow. I heard of the people, residents of this royal and merchant city—and matched their rich dull appearance with her more intimate knowledge of them as individuals and friends; so that they began to live, they ceased to be types and national puppets formed in a foreigner’s eyes. Both portly and merry, their figures seemed cut from the previous century: yet they rode up the surrounding hills on electric rails, their lights at night were neon.

In midafternoon the sun began to set. The short day of long summer-evening light was over, and we walked back towards her home. Paused in the small square where the brilliant tall Christmas tree threw out its frosted light. I wondered whether she had ever seen it. She knew it was there, she raised her face to it and seemed to be looking. Its light flashed on her glasses black in the night. She talked of its candles. Candles! Had she ever seen that the candles were electric? I dared not ask.

We parted at the corner of her street. We simply shook hands, she turned and went along between the houses. She walked more slowly, her back a little bent. She looked like a young girl walking moody in thought.

Two men, drunk, swaying together like stage drunks as many Scandinavians seem to do, raised their hats and said something as she passed. She answered pleasantly. They watched her walking away, making gurgling noises of drunken approbation.

All that evening I could not keep myself from thinking of her — of the beauty of her very humble demand from life. The reward often of people resigned to illness, to amputation. And the next day again I woke with the thought of her. I went early to the boat, found my cabin, hung about. To the top of each mast was lashed a small Christmas tree ready to be lit at night as we would plow through the dark rough North Sea.

So it was later, when the boat sailed and I went into the bar, that I ran into my trouble. I was still exalted, still clouded by both the beauty of Nidaros and of that young girl’s undemanding humility.

Two men were in the bar, speaking English. They were, I think, both pleasant-looking ordinary men of middle age. Businessmen enjoying their trip. But one was already looking at his watch, comparing this with the clock on the wall: —

“Well—good-by to the North! Back to good old British Time!”

The other looked up, and nodded. Nodded in sudden complacent pleasure. He nodded brightly: —

“Yes! We gain an hour!”

It was then, as if something outside myself had gripped me, that I smashed my fist with all the force I had into his smiling, nodding teeth.