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The Postcards
I\'m imposing a severe censorship on myself

Several days went by without any word from the philosophy teacher. Tomorrow was Thursday, May 17-- Norway\'s national day. School would be closed on the 18th as well. As they walked home after school Joanna suddenly exclaimed, "Let\'s go camping!"

Sophie\'s immediate reaction was that she couldn\'t be away from the house for long. But then she said, "Sure, why not?"

A couple of hours later Joanna arrived at Sophie\'s door with a large backpack. Sophie had packed hers as well, and she also had the tent. They both had bedrolls and sweaters, groundsheets and flashlights, large-size thermos bottles and plenty of their favorite food.

When Sophie\'s mother got home around five o\'clock, she gave them a sermon about what they must and must not do. She also insisted on knowing where they were going to set up camp.

They told her they intended to make for Grouse Top. They might be lucky enough to hear the mating call of the grouse next morning.

Sophie had an ulterior motive for choosing that particular spot. She thought that Grouse Top must be pretty close to the major\'s cabin. Something was urging her to return to it, but she didn\'t dare go alone.

The two girls walked down the path that led from the little cul-de-sac just beyond Sophie\'s garden gate. They chatted about this and that, and Sophie enjoyed taking a little time off from everything having to do with philosophy.

By eight o\'clock they had pitched their tent in a clearing by Grouse Top. They had prepared themselves for the night and their bedrolls were unfolded. When they had eaten their sandwiches, Sophie asked, "Have you ever heard of the major\'s cabin?"

"The major\'s cabin?"

"There\'s a hut in the woods somewhere near here ... by a little lake. A strange man lived there once, a major, that\'s why it\'s called the major\'s cabin."

"Does anyone live there now?"

"Do you want to go and see?"

"Where is it?"

Sophie pointed in among the trees.

Joanna was not particularly eager, but in the end they set out. The sun was low in the sky.

They walked in between the tall pine trees at first, but soon they were pushing their way through bush and thicket. Eventually they made their way down to a path. Could it be the path Sophie had followed that Sunday morning?

It must have been--almost at once she could point to something shining between the trees to the right of the path.

"It\'s in there," she said.

They were soon standing at the edge of the small lake. Sophie gazed at the cabin across the water. All the windows were now shuttered up. The red building was the most deserted place she had seen for ages.

Joanna turned toward her. "Do we have to walk on the water?"

"Of course not. We\'ll row."

Sophie pointed down into the reeds. There lay the rowboat, just as before.

"Have you been here before?"

Sophie shook her head. Trying to explain her previous visit would be far too complicated. And then she would have to tell her friend about Alberto Knox and the philosophy course as well.

They laughed and joked as they rowed across the water. When they reached the opposite bank, Sophie made sure they drew the boat well up on land.

They went to the front door. As there was obviously nobody in the cabin, Joanna tried the door handle.

"Locked... you didn\'t expect it to be open, did you?"

"Maybe we can find a key," said Sophie.

She began to search in the crevices of the stonework foundation.

"Oh, let\'s go back to the tent instead," said Joanna after a few minutes.

But just then Sophie exclaimed, "Here it is! I found it!"

She held up the key triumphantly. She put it in the lock and the door swung open.

The two friends sneaked inside as if they were up to something criminal. It was cold and dark in the cabin.

"We can\'t see a thing!" said Joanna.

But Sophie had thought of that. She took a box of matches out of her pocket and struck one. They only had time to see that the cabin was deserted before the match went out. Sophie struck another, and this time she noticed a stump of candle in a wrought-iron candlestick on top of the stove. She lit it with the third match and the little room became light enough for them to look around.

"Isn\'t it odd that such a small candle can light up so much darkness?" said Sophie.

Her friend nodded.

"But somewhere the light disappears into the dark," Sophie went on. "Actually, darkness has no existence of its own. It\'s only a lack of light."

Joanna shivered. "That\'s creepy! Come on, let\'s go..."

"Not before we\'ve looked in the mirror."

Sophie pointed to the brass mirror hanging above the chest of drawers, just as before.

"That\'s really pretty!" said Joanna.

"But it\'s a magic mirror."

 "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?"

"I\'m not kidding, Joanna. I am sure you can look in it and see something on the other side."

"Are you sure you\'ve never been here before? And why is it so amusing to scare me all the time?"

Sophie could not answer that one.


Now it was Joanna who suddenly discovered something lying on the floor in the corner. It was a small box. Joanna picked it up.

"Postcards," she said.

Sophie gasped.

"Don\'t touch them! Do you hear--don\'t you dare touch them!"

Joanna jumped. She threw the box down as if she had burnt herself. The postcards were strewn all over the floor. The next second she began to laugh.

"They\'re only postcards!"

Joanna sat down on the floor and started to pick them up. After a while Sophie sat down beside her.

"Lebanon ... Lebanon ... Lebanon ... They are all postmarked in Lebanon," Joanna discovered.

"I know," said Sophie.

Joanna sat bolt upright and looked Sophie in the eye.

"So you have been here before!"

"Yes, I guess I have."

It suddenly struck her that it would have been a whole lot easier if she had just admitted she had been here before. It couldn\'t do any harm if she let her friend in on the mysterious things she had experienced during the last few days.

"I didn\'t want to tell you before we were here."

Joanna began to read the cards.

"They are all addressed to someone called Hilde Moller Knag."

Sophie had not touched the cards yet.

"What address?"

Joanna read: "Hilde Moller Knag, c/o Alberto Knox, Lillesand, Norway."

Sophie breathed a sigh of relief. She was afraid they would say c/o Sophie Amundsen.

She began to inspect them more closely.

"April 28 ... May 4 ... May 6 ... May 9 ... They were stamped a few days ago."

"But there\'s something els............
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