20 August 2013

The Stone

Well, here was this stone. There were stones more in plenty, but here was one to begin with. Isak is looking ahead, to the time when he will need to build a little house here, a little home for himself and Inger, and as well to get to work a bit on the site, and clear it, while Sivert is down at Storborg. Otherwise the boy would be asking questions, and that was not to Isak's mind. The day must come, of course, when Sivert would need all there was of the place for himself—the old folks would be wanting a house apart. Ay, there was never an end of building at Sellanraa; that fodder loft above the cowshed was not done yet, though the beams and planks for it were there all ready.

Well, then, here was this stone. Nothing so big to look at above ground, but not to be moved at a touch for all that; it must be a heavy fellow. Isak dug round about it, and tried his crowbar, but it would not move. He dug again and tried once more, but no. Back to the house for a spade then, and clear it would be if he had to blast it, after all. The boring would make such a noise, and call up every one on the place. He dug. Off again to fetch a levering pole and tried that—no. He dug again. Isak was beginning to be annoyed with this stone; he frowned, and looked at the thing, as if he had just come along to make a general inspection of the stones in that neighbourhood, and found this one particularly stupid. He criticized it; ay, it was a round-faced, idiotic stone, no getting hold of it any way—he was almost inclined to say it was deformed. Blasting? The thing wasn't worth a charge of powder. And was he to give it up, was he to consider the possibility of being beaten by a stone?

He dug. Hard work, that it was, but as to giving up … At last he got the nose of his lever down and tried it; the stone did not move. Technically speaking, there was nothing wrong with his method, but it did not work. What was the matter, then? He had got out stones before in his life. Was he getting old?

But the stone did not move.

No help for it; he must dig again.[...]

But then it is that Inger speaks up, a little timidly, again; seeing, no doubt, what is troubling him: "What if we both hang on the stick there?" And the thing she calls a stick is the lever, nothing else.

"No!" cries Isak furiously. But after a moment's thought he says: "Well, well, since you're here—though you might as well have gone home. Let's try."

And they get the stone up on edge. Ay, they manage that. And "Puh!" says Isak.

But now comes a revelation, a strange thing to see. The underside of the stone is flat, mightily broad, finely cut, smooth and even as a floor. The stone is but the half of a stone, the other half is somewhere close by, no doubt. Isak knows well enough that two halves of the same stone may lie in different places; the frost, no doubt, that in course of time had shifted them apart. But he is all wonder and delight at the find; 'tis a useful stone of the best, a door-slab. A round sum of money would not have filled this fieldworker's mind with such content. "A fine door-slab," says he proudly.

Excerpt From: Hamsun, Knut. “Growth of the Soil".


Long-Skirts said...

I gotta read this!

dulac90 said...

Alternate title...

"Drying of the Paint"