Read SPRING FEELINGS of Strife and Peace , free online book, by Fredrika Bremer, on ReadCentral.com.

Heaven has strewn thoughts o’er the sweet vernal dale,
These on the hearts of the flowers bestowing,
Therefore, when open the chalices glowing,
Whispers each petal a secret tale.

Velhaven.

May strides on, and June approaches. From their nests in the airy, leaf-garlanded grottoes, which mother nature has prepared for them in the lofty oaks and ashes, the starlings send their deep, lively whistlings, their love-breathing trills. Song and fragrances fill the woods of Norway. Rustic maidens wander with their herds and flocks up to the Saeter dales, singing joyously:

To draw to the Saeter is good and blessed.
Come, Boeling mine!
Come cow, come calf, come greatest and least;
To the Queen your steps incline.

The labour of the spring was closed; the harvests ripened beneath the care of heaven. Harald had now more leisure, and much of this he devoted to Susanna. He taught her to know the flowers of the dale, their names and properties; and was as much amused at her mangling of the Latin words, as he was charmed at the quickness with which she comprehended and applied their economical and medicinal uses.

The dale and its beauties became to her continually more known and beloved. She went now again in the morning to the spring, where the ladies-mantle and the silver-weed grew so luxuriantly, and let the feathery creatures bathe and rejoice themselves. On Sunday afternoon, too, she sometimes took a ramble to a grove of oaks and wild rose-bushes, at the foot of the mountain called Krystalberg, which in the glow of the evening sun glittered with a wonderful radiance. She was sometimes followed thither by Harald, who related many a strange legend of Huldran, who lived in the mountain; of the dwarfs who shaped the six-sided crystals, called thence dwarf-jewels; of the subterranean world and doings, as these were fashioned in the rich imagination of ancient times, and as they still darkly lived on, in the silent belief of the northern people. Susanna’s active mind seized on all this with the intensest interest. She visioned herself in the mountain’s beautiful crystal halls; seemed to hear the song of the Neck in the rushing of the river; and tree and blossom grew more beautiful in her eyes, as she imagined elves and spirits speaking out of them.

Out of the prosaic soil of her life and action sprang a flower of poetry, half reality, half legend, which diffused a delightful radiance over her soul.

Susanna was not the only one at Semb on whom this spring operated beneficially. The pale Mrs. Astrid seemed to raise herself out of her gloomy trance, and to imbibe new vigour of life from the fresh vernal air. She went out sometimes when the sun shone warmly, and she was seen sitting long hours on a mossy stone in the wood, at the foot of the Krystalberg. When Susanna observed that she seemed to love this spot, she carried thither silently out of the wood, turfs with the flowering Linnea and the fragrant single-flowered Pyrola, and planted them so that the south wind should bear their delicious aroma to the spot where Mrs. Astrid sate; and Susanna felt a sad pleasure in the thought that these balsamic airs would give to her mistress an evidence of a devotion that did not venture otherwise to show itself. Susanna would have been richly rewarded, could she at this time have seen into her mistress’s soul, and also have read a letter which she wrote, and from which we present a fragment.

To Bishop S.

“Love does not grow weary. Thus was I constrained to say to myself to-day as your letter reached me, and penetrated me with the feeling of your goodness, of your heavenly patience! And you do not grow weary of those who almost grow weary of themselves! And always the same spring in your hopes the same mountain-fast, beautiful faith. Ah! that I better deserved your friendship! But to-day I have a glad word to say to you, and I will not withhold it from you.

“You wish to know how it is with me? Better! For some time I have breathed more lightly. Quiet days have passed over me; mild stars have glanced down upon my head; the waterfall has sung its cradle-song to me by night, till it has lulled me to sleep, and it has become calmer and better with me. The spring exerts its beneficent influence upon me. All rises round me so great, so rich in its life and beauty, I forget myself sometimes in admiration. It is more than thirty years since I lived in the country.

“At times, feelings arise in me like vernal gales. I have then experienced a certain consolation in the thought, that throughout my long conflict I have yet striven to do right, to endure to the utmost; that in a world where I have shed so many tears, I have also forborne to shed many. Sometimes, out of the vernally blue heaven, something falls on me like a tender glance, an anticipation. But, perhaps, these brightenings are merely spring flowers, which perish with the spring.

“I go sometimes out. I enjoy sitting in the beautiful grove of oaks down in the dale, and there, mild and beneficial feelings pass over me. The breeze bears to me odours ineffably delicious. These odours remind me of the world of beneficent, healing, invigorating powers which shoot forth around me, and manifest themselves so silently, so unpretendingly, merely through their fragrance and their still beauty. I sate there this evening, at the foot of the mountain. The sun was hastening towards his setting, but gleamed warmly into the grove. Near me grazed some sheep with their tender lambs. They gazed at me with a wondering but unalarmed air; a little bell tinkled clear and softly, as they wandered to and fro on the green sward; it was so calm and still that I heard the small insects which hummed in the grass at my feet, and there passed over me I know not what feeling of satisfaction and pleasure. I enjoyed existence in this hour like the lambs, like the insects I can then still enjoy! Mild, affluent Nature! on thy heart might yet mine but there stands the pale, bloody boy, there stands the murderer, everlastingly between me and peace of mind! If I could sometimes hear your voice, if I could see frequently your clear, solace-inspiring glance, I might perhaps yet teach myself to look up! But I ask you not to come. Ah! I desire no one to approach me. But be no longer so uneasy concerning me, my friend, I am better. I have about me good people, who make my outward life safe and agreeable. Let your affectionate thoughts, as hitherto, rest upon me; perhaps they will some time force light into my heart!”