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The Major\'s Cabin
... the girl in the mirror winked with both eyes

It was only a quarter past seven. There was no need to hurry home. Sophie\'s mother always took it easy on Sundays, so she would probably sleep for another two hours.

Should she go a bit farther into the woods and try to find Alberto Knox? And why had the dog snarled at her so viciously?

Sophie got up and began to walk down the path Hermes had taken. She had the brown envelope with the pages on Plato in her hand. Wherever the path diverged she took the wider one.

Birds were chirping everywhere--in the trees and in the air, in bush and thicket. They were busily occupied with their morning pursuits. They knew no difference between weekdays and Sundays. Who had taught them to do all that? Was there a tiny computer inside each one of them, programming them to do certain things?

The path led up over a little hill, then steeply down between tall pine trees. The woods were so dense now that she could only see a few yards between the trees.

Suddenly she caught sight of something glittering between the pine trunks. It must be a little lake. The path went the other way but Sophie picked her way among the trees. Without really knowing why, she let her feet lead her.

The lake was no bigger than a soccer field. Over on the other side she could see a red-painted cabin in a small clearing surrounded by silver birches. A faint wisp of smoke was rising from the chimney.

Sophie went down to the water\'s edge. It was very muddy in many places, but then she noticed a rowboat. It was drawn halfway out of the water. There was a pair of oars in it.

Sophie looked around. Whatever she did, it would be impossible to get around the lake to the red cabin without getting her shoes soaked. She went resolutely over to the boat and pushed it into the water. Then she climbed aboard, set the oars in the rowlocks, and rowed across the lake. The boat soon touched the opposite bank. Sophie went ashore and tried to pull the boat up after her. The bank was much steeper here than the opposite bank had been.

She glanced over her shoulder only once before walking up toward the cabin.

She was quite startled at her own boldness. How did she dare do this? She had no idea. It was as if "something" impelled her.

Sophie went up to the door and knocked. She waited a while but nobody answered. She tried the handle cautiously, and the door opened.

"Hallo!" she called. "Is anyone at home?"

She went in and found herself in a living room. She dared not shut the door behind her.

Somebody was obviously living here. Sophie could hear wood crackling in the old stove. Someone had been here very recently.

On a big dining table stood a typewriter, some books, a couple of pencils, and a pile of paper. A smaller table and two chairs stood by the window that overlooked the lake. Apart from that there was very little furniture, although the whole of one wall was lined with book-shelves filled with books. Above a white chest of drawers hung a large round mirror in a heavy brass frame. It looked very old.

On one of the walls hung two pictures. One was an oil painting of a white house which lay a stone\'s throw from a little bay with a red boathouse. Between the house and the boathouse was a sloping garden with an apple tree, a few thick bushes, and some rocks. A dense fringe of birch trees framed the garden like a garland. The title of the painting was "Bjerkely."

Beside that painting hung an old portrait of a man sitting in a chair by a window. He had a book in his lap. This picture also had a little bay with trees and rocks in the background. It looked as though it had been painted several hundred years ago. The title of the picture was "Berkeley." The painter\'s name was Smibert.

Berkeley and Bjerkely. How strange!

Sophie continued her investigation. A door led from the living room to a small kitchen. Someone had just done the dishes. Plates and glasses were piled on a tea towel, some of them still glistening with drops of soapy water. There was a tin bowl on the floor with some leftover scraps of food in it. Whoever lived here had a pet, a dog or a cat.

Sophie went back to the living room. Another door led to a tiny bedroom. On the floor next to the bed there were a couple of blankets in a thick bundle. Sophie discovered some golden hairs on the blankets. Here was the evidence! Now Sophie knew that the occupants of the cabin were Alberto Knox and Hermes.

Back in the living room, Sophie stood in front of the mirror. The glass was matte and scratched, and her reflection correspondingly blurred. Sophie began to make faces at herself like she did at home in the bathroom. Her reflection did exactly the same, which was only to be expected.

But all of a sudden something scary happened. Just once--in the space of a split second--Sophie saw quite clearly that the girl in the mirror winked with both eyes. Sophie started back in fright. If she herself had winked--how could she have seen the other girl wink? And not only that, it seemed as though the other girl had winked at Sophie as if to say: I can see you, Sophie. I am in here, on the other side.

Sophie felt her heart beating, and at the same time she heard a dog barking in the distance. Hermes! She had to get out of here at once. Then she noticed a green wallet on the chest of drawers under the mirror. It contained a hundred-crown note, a fifty, and a school I.D. card. It showed a picture of a girl with fair hair. Under the picture was the girl\'s name: Hilde Moller Knag ...

Sophie shivered. Again she heard the dog bark. She had to get out, at once!

As she hurried past the table she noticed a white envelope between all the books and the pile of paper. It had one word written on it: SOPHIE.

Before she had time to realize what she was doing, she grabbed the envelope and stuffed it into the brown envelope with the Plato pages. Then she rushed out of the door and slammed it behind her.

The barking was getting closer. But worst of all was that the boat was gone. After a second or two she saw it, adrift halfway across the lake. One of the oars was floating beside it. All because she hadn\'t been able to pull it completely up on land. She heard the dog barking quite nearby now and saw movements between the trees on the other side of the lake.

Sophie didn\'t hesitate any longer. With the big envelope in her hand, she plunged into the bushes behind the cabin. Soon she was having to wade through marshy ground, sinking in several times to well above her ankles. But she had to keep going. She had to get home.

Presently she stumbled onto a path. Was it the path she had taken earlier? She stopped to wring out her dress. And then she began to cry.

How could she have been so stupid? The worst of all was the boat. She couldn\'t forget the sight of the row-boat with the one oar drifting helplessly on the lake. It was all so embarrassing, so shameful. . .

The philosophy teacher had probably reached the lake by now. He would need the boat to get home. Sophie felt almost like a criminal. But she hadn\'t done it on purpose.

The envelope! That was probably even worse. Why had she taken it? Because her name was on it, of course, so in a way it was hers. But even so, she felt like a thief. And what\'s more, she had provided the evidence that it was she who had been there.

Sophie drew the note out of the envelope. It said:

What came first--the chicken or the "idea" chicken ?

Are we born with innate "ideas"? What is the difference between a plant, an animal, and a human? Why does it rain? What does it take to live a good life?

Sophie couldn\'t possibly think about these questions right now, but she assumed they had something to do with the next philosopher. Wasn\'t he called Aristotle?

When she finally saw the hedge after running so far through the woods it was like swimming ashore after a shipwreck. The hedge looked funny from the other side.

She didn\'t look at her watch until she had crawled into the den. It was ten-thirty. She put the big envelope into the biscuit tin with the other papers and stuffed the note with the new questions down her tights.

Her mother was on the telephone when she came in. When she saw Sophie she hung up quickly.

"Where on earth have you been?"

"I... went for a walk ... in the woods," she stammered.

"So I see."

Sophie stood silently, watching the water dripping from her dress.

"I called Joanna..."


Her mother brought her some dry clothes. Sophie only just managed to hide the philosopher\'s note. Then they sat together in the kitchen, and her mother made some hot chocolate.

"Were you with him?" she asked after a while.


Sophie could only think about her philosophy teacher.

"With him, yes. Him.... your rabbit!"

Sophie shook her head.

"What do you do when you\'re together, Sophie? Why are you so w............
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