Read PART I: CHAPTER I of The Home , free online book, by Fredrika Bremer, on ReadCentral.com.

MORNING DISPUTE AND EVENING CONTENTION.

“My sweet friend,” said Judge Frank, in a tone of vexation, “it is not worth while reading aloud to you if you keep yawning incessantly, and looking about, first to the right and then to the left;” and with these words he laid down a treatise of Jeremy Bentham, which he had been reading, and rose from his seat.

“Ah, forgive me, dear friend!” returned his wife, “but really these good things are all somewhat indigestible, and I was thinking about Come here, dear Brigitta!” said Mrs. Elise Frank, beckoning an old servant to her, to whom she then spoke in an under tone.

Whilst this was going on, the Judge, a handsome strong-built man of probably forty, walked up and down the room, and then suddenly pausing as if in consideration, before one of the walls, he exclaimed to his wife, who by this time had finished her conversation with the old servant, “See, love, now if we were to have a door opened here and it could very easily be done, for it is only a lath-and-plaster wall we could then get so conveniently into our bedroom, without first going through the sitting-room and the nursery it would indeed be capital!”

“But then, where could the sofa stand?” answered Elise, with some anxiety.

“The sofa?” returned her husband; “oh, the sofa could be wheeled a little aside; there is more than room enough for it.”

“But, my best friend,” replied she, “there would come a very dangerous draft from the door to every one who sat in the corner.”

“Ah! always difficulties and impediments!” said the husband. “But cannot you see, yourself, what a great advantage it would be if there were a door here?”

“No, candidly speaking,” said she, “I think it is better as it is.”

“Yes, that is always the way with ladies,” returned he; “they will have nothing touched, nothing done, nothing changed, even to obtain improvement and convenience; everything is good and excellent as it is, till somebody makes the alteration for them, and then they can see at once how much better it is; and then they exclaim, ’Ah, see now that is charming!’ Ladies, without doubt, belong to the stand-still party!”

“And the gentlemen,” added she, “belong to the movement party; at least wherever building and molestation-making comes across them!”

The conversation, which had hitherto appeared perfectly good-humoured, seemed to assume a tone of bitterness from that word “molestation-making;” and in return the voice of the Judge was somewhat austere, as he replied to her taunt against the gentlemen. “Yes,” said he, “they are not afraid of a little trouble whenever a great advantage is to be obtained. But are we to have no breakfast to-day? It is twenty-two minutes after nine! It really is shocking, dear Elise, that you cannot teach your maids punctuality! There is nothing more intolerable than to lose one’s time in waiting; nothing more useless; nothing more insupportable; nothing which more easily might be prevented, if people would only resolutely set about it! Life is really too short for one to be able to waste half of it in waiting! Five-and-twenty minutes after nine! and the children are they not ready too? Dear Elise ”

“I’ll go and see after them,” said she; and went out quickly.

It was Sunday. The June sun shone into a large cheerful room, and upon a snow-white damask tablecloth, which in soft silken folds was spread over a long table, on which a handsome coffee-service was set out with considerable elegance. The disturbed countenance with which the Judge had approached the breakfast-table, cleared itself instantly as a person, whom young ladies would unquestionably have called “horribly ugly,” but whom no reflective physiognomist could have observed without interest, entered the room. This person was tall, extremely thin, and somewhat inclining to the left side; the complexion was dark, and the somewhat noble features wore a melancholy expression, which but seldom gave place to a smile of unusual beauty. The forehead elevated itself, with its deep lines, above the large brown extraordinary eyes, and above this a wood of black-brown hair erected itself, under whose thick stiff curls people said a multitude of ill-humours and paradoxes housed themselves; so also, indeed, might they in all those deep furrows with which his countenance was lined, not one of which certainly was without its own signification. Still, there was not a sharp angle of that face; there was nothing, either in word or voice, of the Assessor, Jeremias Munter, however severe they might seem to be, which at the same time did not conceal an expression of the deepest goodness of heart, and which stamped itself upon his whole being, in the same way as the sap clothes with green foliage the stiff resisting branches of the knotted oak.

“Good day, brother!” exclaimed the Judge, cordially offering him his hand, “how are you?”

“Bad!” answered the melancholy man; “how can it be otherwise? What weather we have! As cold as January! And what people we have in the world too: it is both a sin and shame! I am so angry to-day that Have you read that malicious article against you in the paper?”

“No, I don’t take in that paper; but I have heard speak of the article,” said Judge Frank. “It is directed against my writing on the condition of the poor in the province, is it not?”

“Yes; or more properly no,” replied the Assessor, “for the extraordinary fact is, that it contains nothing about that affair. It is against yourself that it is aimed the lowest insinuations, the coarsest abuse!”

“So I have heard,” said the Judge; “and on that very account I do not trouble myself to read it.”

“Have you heard who has written it?” asked the visitor.

“No,” returned the other; “nor do I wish to know.”

“But you should do so,” argued the Assessor; “people ought to know who are their enemies. It is Mr. N. I should like to give the fellow three emetics, that he might know the taste of his own gall!”

“What!” exclaimed Judge Frank, at once interested in the Assessor’s news “N., who lives nearly opposite to us, and who has so lately received from the Cape his child, the poor little motherless girl?”

“The very same!” returned he; “but you must read this piece, if it be only to give a relish to your coffee. See here; I have brought it with me. I have learned that it would be sent to your wife to-day. Yes, indeed, what pretty fellows there are in the world! But where is your wife to-day? Ah! here she comes! Good morning, my lady Elise. So charming in the early morning; but so pale! Eh, eh, eh; this is not as it should be! What is it that I say and preach continually? Exercise, fresh air else nothing in the world avails anything. But who listens to one’s preaching? No adieu my friends! Ah! where is my snuff-box? Under the newspapers? The abominable newspapers; they must lay their hands on everything; one can’t keep even one’s snuff-box in peace for them! Adieu, Mrs. Elise! Adieu, Frank. Nay, see how he sits there and reads coarse abuse of himself, just as if it mattered nothing to him. Now he laughs into the bargain. Enjoy your breakfasts, my friends!”

“Will you not enjoy it with us?” asked the friendly voice of Mrs. Frank; “we can offer you to-day quite fresh home-baked bread.”

“No, I thank you,” said the Assessor; “I am no friend to such home-made things; good for nothing, however much they may be bragged of. Home-baked, home-brewed, home-made. Heaven help us! It all sounds very fine, but it’s good for nothing.”

“Try if to-day it really be good for nothing,” urged she. “There, we have now Madame Folette on the table; you must, at least, have a cup of coffee from her.”

“What do you mean?” asked the surprised Assessor; “what is it? What horrid Madame is it that is to give me a cup of coffee? I never could bear old women; and if they are now to come upon the coffee-table ”

“The round coffee-pot there,” said Mrs. Frank, good-humouredly, “is Madame Folette. Could you not bear that?”

“But why call it so?” asked he. “What foolery is that?”

“It is a fancy of the children,” returned she. “An honest old woman of this name, whom I once treated to a cup of coffee, exclaimed, at the first sight of her favourite beverage, ’When I see a coffee-pot, it is all the same to me as if I saw an angel from heaven!’ The children heard this, and insisted upon it that there was a great resemblance in figure between Madame Folette and this coffee-pot; and so ever since it has borne her name. The children are very fond of her, because she gives them every Sunday morning their coffee.”

“What business have children with coffee?” asked the Assessor. “Cannot they be thin enough without it; and are they to be burnt up before their time? There’s Petrea, is she not lanky enough? I never was very fond of her; and now, if she is to grow up into a coffee wife, why ”

“But, dear Munter,” said Mrs. Frank, “you are not in a good humour to-day.”

“Good humour!” replied he: “no, Mrs. Elise, I am not in a good humour; I don’t know what there is in the world to make people good-humoured. There now, your chair has torn a hole in my coat-lap! Is that pleasant? That’s home-made too! But now I’ll go; that is, if your doors are they home-made too? will let me pass.”

“But will you not come back, and dine with us?” asked she.

“No, I thank you,” replied he; “I am invited elsewhere; and that in this house, too.”

“To Mrs. Chamberlain W ?” asked Mrs. Frank.

“No, indeed!” answered the Assessor: “I cannot bear that woman. She lectures me incessantly. Lectures me! I have a great wish to lecture her, I have! And then, her blessed dog Pyrrhus or Pirre; I had a great mind to kill it. And then, she is so thin. I cannot bear thin people; least of all, thin old women.”

“No?” said Mrs. Frank. “Don’t you know, then, what rumour says of you and poor old Miss Rask?”

“That common person!” exclaimed Jeremias. “Well, and what says malice of me and poor old Miss Rask?”

“That, not many days since,” said Mrs. Frank, “you met this old lady on your stairs as she was going up to her own room; and that she was sighing, because of the long flight of stairs and her weak chest. Now malice says, that, with the utmost politeness, you offered her your arm, and conducted her up the stairs with the greatest possible care; nor left her, till she had reached her own door; and further, after all, that you sent her a pound of cough lozenges; and ”

“And do you believe,” interrupted the Assessor, “that I did that for her own sake? No, I thank you! I did it that the poor old skeleton might not fall down dead upon my steps, and I be obliged to climb over her ugly corpse. From no other cause in this world did I drag her up the stairs. Yes, yes, that was it! I dine to-day with Miss Berndes. She is always a very sensible person; and her little Miss Laura is very pretty. See, here have we now all the herd of children! Your most devoted servant, Sister Louise! So, indeed, little Miss Eva! she is not afraid of the ugly old fellow, she God bless her! there’s some sugar-candy for her! And the little one! it looks just like a little angel. Do I make her cry? Then I must away; for I cannot endure children’s crying. Oh, for heaven’s sake! It may make a part of the charm of home: that I can believe; perhaps it is home-music! Home-baked, home-made, home-music hu!”

The Assessor sprang through the door; the Judge laughed; and the little one became silent at the sight of a kringla, through which the beautiful eye of her brother Henrik spied at her as through an eye-glass; whilst the other children came bounding to the breakfast-table.

“Nay, nay, nay, my little angels, keep yourselves a little quiet,” said the mother. “Wait a moment, dear Petrea; patience is a virtue. Eva dear, don’t behave in that way; you don’t see me do so.”

Thus gently moralised the mother; whilst, with the help of her eldest daughter, the little prudent Louise, she cared for the other children. The father went from one to another full of delight, patted their little heads, and pulled them gently by the hair.

“I ought, yesterday, to have cut all your hair,” said he. “Eva has quite a wig; one can hardly see her face for it. Give your papa a kiss, my little girl! I’ll take your wig from you early to-morrow morning.”

“And mine too, and mine too, papa!” exclaimed the others.

“Yes, yes,” answered the father, “I’ll shear every one of you.”

All laughed but the little one; which, half frightened, hid its sunny-haired little head on the mother’s bosom: the father raised it gently, and kissed, first it, and then the mother.

“Now put sugar in papa’s cup,” said she to the little one; “look! he holds it to you.”

The little one smiled, put sugar in the cup, and Madame Folette began her joyful circuit.

But we will now leave Madame Folette, home-baked bread, the family breakfast, and the morning sun, and seat ourselves at the evening lamp, by the light of which Elise is writing.

TO CECILIA.

I must give you portraits of all my little flock of children; who now, having enjoyed their evening meal, are laid to rest upon their soft pillows. Ah! if I had only a really good portrait I mean a painted one of my Henrik, my first-born, my summer child, as I call him because he was born on a Midsummer-day, in the summer hours both of my life and my fortune; but only the pencil of a Correggio could represent those beautiful, kind, blue eyes, those golden locks, that loving mouth, and that countenance all so perfectly pure and beautiful! Goodness and joyfulness beam out from his whole being; even although his buoyant animal life, which seldom allows his arms or legs to be quiet, often expresses itself in not the most graceful manner. My eleven-years-old boy is, alas! very his father says very unmanageable. Still, notwithstanding all this wildness, he is possessed of a deep and restless fund of sentiment, which makes me often tremble for his future happiness. God defend my darling, my summer child, my only son! Oh, how dear he is to me! Ernst warns me often of too partial an affection for this child; and on that very account will I now pass on from portrait N to

N. Behold then the little Queen-bee, our eldest daughter, just turned ten years; and you will see a grave, fair girl, not handsome, but with a round, sensible face; from which I hope, by degrees, to remove a certain ill-tempered expression. She is uncommonly industrious, silent and orderly, and kind towards her younger sisters, although very much disposed to lecture them; nor will she allow any opportunity to pass in which her importance as “eldest sister” is not observed; on which account the little ones give her the titles of “Your Majesty” and “Mrs. Judge.” The little Louise appears to me one of those who will always be still and sure; and who, on this account, will go fortunately though the world.

N. People say that my little nine-years-old Eva will be very like her mother. I hope it will prove a really splendid fac-simile. See, then, a little, soft, round-about figure, which, amid laughter and merriment, rolls hither and thither lightly and nimbly, with an ever-varying physiognomy, which is rather plain than handsome, although lit up by a pair of beautiful, kind, dark-blue eyes. Quickly moved to sorrow, quickly excited to joy; good-hearted, flattering, confection-loving, pleased with new and handsome clothes, and with dolls and play; greatly beloved too by brothers and sisters, as well as by all the servants; the best friend and playfellow, too, of her brother. Such is little Eva.

N. Nos. 3 and 4 ought not properly to come together. Poor Leonore had a sickly childhood, and this rather, I believe, than nature, has given to her an unsteady and violent temper, and has unhappily sown the seeds of envy towards her more fortunate sisters. She is not deficient in deep feeling, but the understanding is sluggish, and it is extremely difficult for her to learn anything. All this promises no pleasure; rather the very opposite. The expression of her mouth, even in the uncomfortable time of teething, seemed to speak, “Let me be quiet!” It is hardly possible that she can be other than plain, but, with God’s help, I hope to make her good and happy.

“My beloved, plain child!” say I sometimes to her as I clasp her tenderly in my arms, for I would willingly reconcile her early to her fate.

N. But whatever will fate do with the nose of my Petrea? This nose is at present the most remarkable thing about her little person; and if it were not so large, she really would be a pretty child. We hope, however, that it will moderate itself in her growth.

Petrea is a little lively girl, with a turn for almost everything, whether good or bad; curious and restless is she, and beyond measure full of failings; she has a dangerous desire to make herself observed, and to excite an interest. Her activity shows itself in destructiveness; yet she is good-hearted and most generous. In every kind of foolery she is a most willing ally with Henrik and Eva, whenever they will grant her so much favour; and if these three be heard whispering together, one may be quite sure that some roguery or other is on foot. There exists already, however, so much unquiet in her, that I fear her whole life will be such; but I will early teach her to turn herself to that which can change unrest into rest.

N. And now to the pet child of the house to the youngest, the loveliest, the so-called “little one” to her who with her white hands puts the sugar into her father’s and mother’s cup the coffee without that would not taste good to her whose little bed is not yet removed from the chamber of the parents, and who, every morning, creeping out of her own bed, lays her bright curly little head on her father’s shoulder and sleeps again.

Could you only see the little two-years-old Gabriele, with her large, serious brown eyes; her refined, somewhat pale, but indescribably lovely countenance; her bewitching little gestures; you would be just as much taken with her as the rest are, you would find it difficult, as we all do, not to spoil her. She is a quiet little child, but very unlike her eldest sister. A predominating characteristic of Gabriele is love of the beautiful; she shows a decided aversion to what is ugly and inconvenient, and as decided a love for what is attractive. A most winning little gentility in appearance and manners, has occasioned the brother and sisters to call her in sport “the little young lady,” or “the little princess.” Henrik is really in love with his little sister, kisses her small white hands with devotion, and in return she loves him with her whole heart. Towards the others she is very often somewhat ungracious; and our good friend the Assessor calls her frequently “the little gracious one,” and frequently also “the little ungracious one,” but then he has for her especially so many names; my wish is that in the end she may deserve the surname of “the amiable.”

Peace be with my young ones! There is not one of them which is not possessed of the material of peculiar virtue and excellence, and yet not also at the same time of the seed of some dangerous vice, which may ruin the good growth of God in them. May the endeavours both of their father and me be blessed in training these plants of heaven aright! But ah! the education of children is no easy thing, and all the many works on that subject which I have studied appear to me, whether the fault be in me or in them I cannot tell, but small helps. Ah! I often find no other means than to clasp the child tenderly in my arms, and to weep bitterly over it, or else to kiss it in the fulness of my joy; and it often has appeared to me that such moments are not without their influence.

I endeavour as much as possible not to scold. I know how perpetually scolding crushes the free spirit and the innocent joyousness of childhood; and I sincerely believe that if one will only sedulously cultivate what is good in character, and make in all instances what is good visible and attractive, the bad will by degrees fall away of itself.

I sing a great deal to my children. They are brought up with songs; for I wished early, as it were, to bathe their souls in harmony. Several of them, especially my first-born and Eva, are regular little enthusiasts in music; and every evening, as soon as twilight comes on, the children throng about me, and then I sit down to the piano, and either accompany myself, or play to little songs which they themselves sing. It is my Henrik’s reward, when he has been very good for the whole day, that I should sit by his bed, and sing to him till he sleeps. He says that he then has such beautiful dreams. We often sit and talk for an hour instead, and I delight myself sincerely in his active and pure soul. When he lays out his great plans for his future life, he ends thus: “And when I am grown up a man, and have my own house, then, mother, thou shalt come and live with me, and I will keep so many maids to wait on thee, and thou shalt have so many flowers, and everything that thou art fond of, and shalt live just like a queen; only of an evening, when I go to bed, thou shalt sit beside me and sing me to sleep; wilt thou not?” Often too, when in the midst of his plans for the future and my songs, he has dropped asleep, I remain sitting still by the bed with my heart full to overflowing with joy and pride in this angel. Ernst declares that I spoil him. Ah, perhaps I do, but nevertheless it is a fact that I earnestly endeavour not to do so. After all, I can say of every one of my children what a friend of mine said of hers, that they are tolerably good; that is to say, they are not good enough for heaven.

This evening I am alone. Ernst is away at the District-Governor’s. It is my birthday to-day; but I have told no one, because I wished rather to celebrate it in a quiet communion with my own thoughts.

How at this moment the long past years come in review before me! I see myself once more in the house of my parents: in that good, joyful, beloved home! I see myself once more by thy side, my beloved and only sister, in that large, magnificent house, surrounded by meadows and villages. How we looked down upon them from high windows, and yet rejoiced that the sun streamed into the most lowly huts just as pleasantly as into our large saloons everything seemed to us so well arranged.

Life then, Cecilia, was joyful and free from care. How we sate and wept over “Des Voeux Téméraires,” and over “Feodor and Maria,” such were our cares then. Our life was made up of song, and dance, and merriment, with our so many cheerful neighbours; with the most accomplished of whom we got up enthusiasms for music and literature. We considered ourselves to be virtuous, because we loved those who loved us, and because we gave of our superfluity to those who needed it. Friendship was our passion. We were ready to die for friendship, but towards love we had hearts of stone. How we jested over our lovers, and thought what fun it would be to act the parts of austere romance-heroines! How unmerciful we were, and how easily our lovers consoled themselves! Then Ernst Frank came on a visit to us. The rumour of a learned and strong-minded man preceded him, and fixed our regards upon him, because women, whether well-informed or not themselves, are attracted by such men. Do you not remember how much he occupied our minds? how his noble person, his calm, self-assured demeanour, his frank, decided, yet always polite behaviour charmed us at first, and the awed us?

One could say of him, that morally as well as physically he stood firmly. His deep mourning dress, together with an expression of quiet manly grief, which at times shaded his countenance, combined to make him interesting to us; nevertheless, you thought that he looked too stern, and I very soon lost in his presence my accustomed gaiety. Whenever his dark grave eyes were fixed upon me, I was conscious that they possessed a half-bewitching, half-oppressive power over me; I felt myself happy because of it, yet at the same time filled with anxiety; my very action was constrained, my hands became cold and did everything blunderingly, nor ever did I speak so stupidly as when I observed that he listened. Aunt Lisette gave me one day this maxim: “My dear, remember what I now tell thee: if a man thinks that thou art a fool, it does not injure thee the least in his opinion; but if he once thinks that thou considerest him a fool, then art thou lost for ever with him!” With the last it may be just as it will I have heard a clever young man declare that it would operate upon him like salt on fire however, this is certain, that the first part of Aunt Lisette’s maxim is correct, since my stupidity in Ernst’s presence did not injure me at all in his opinion, and when he was kind and gentle, how inexpressibly agreeable he was!

His influence over me became greater each succeeding day: I seemed to live continually under his eyes; when they beamed on me in kindness, it was as if a spring breeze passed through my soul; and if his glance was graver than common, I became still, and out of spirits. It seemed to me at times and it is so even to this very day that if this clear and wonderfully penetrating glance were only once, and with its full power, riveted upon me, my very heart would cease to beat. Yet after all, I am not sure whether I loved him. I hardly think I did; for when he was absent I then seemed to breathe so freely, yet at the same time, I would have saved his life by the sacrifice of my own.

In several respects we had no sympathies in common. He had no taste for music, which I loved passionately; and in reading too our feelings were so different. He yawned over my favourite romances, nay he even sometimes would laugh when I was at the point of bursting into tears; I, on the contrary, yawned over his useful and learned books, and found them more tedious than I could express. The world of imagination in which my thoughts delighted to exercise themselves, he valued not in the least, whilst the burdensome actuality which he always was seeking for in life, had no charm for me. Nevertheless there were many points in which we accorded these especially were questions of morals and whenever this was the case, it afforded both of us great pleasure.

And now came the time, Cecilia, in which you left me; when our fates separated themselves, although our hearts did not.

One day there were many strangers with us; and in the afternoon I played at shuttlecock with young cousin Emil, to whom we were so kind, and who deserved our kindness so well. How it happened I cannot tell, but before long Ernst took his place, and was my partner in the game. He looked unusually animated, and I felt myself more at ease with him than common. He threw the shuttlecock excellently, and with a firm hand, but always let it fly a little way beyond me, so that I was obliged to step back a few paces each time to catch it, and thus unconsciously to myself was I driven, in the merry sport, through a long suite of rooms, till we came at last to one where we were quite alone, and a long way from the company. All at once then Ernst left off his play, and a change was visible in his whole countenance. I augured something amiss, and would gladly have sprung far, far away, but I felt powerless; and then Ernst spoke so from his heart, so fervently, and with such deep tenderness, that he took my heart at once to himself. I laid my hand, although tremblingly, in his, and, almost without knowing what I did, consented to go through life by his side.

I had just then passed my nineteenth year; and my beloved parents sanctioned the union of their daughter with a man so respectable and so universally esteemed, and one, moreover, whom everybody prophesied would one day rise to the highest éminences of the state and Ernst, whose nature it was to accomplish everything rapidly which he undertook, managed it so that in a very short time our marriage was celebrated.

At the same time some members of my family thought that by this union I had descended a step. I thought not; on the contrary, the very reverse. I was of high birth, had several not undistinguished family connexions, and was brought up in a brilliant circle, in all the superficial accomplishments of the day, amid superfluity and thoughtlessness. He was a man who had shaped out his own course in life, who, by his own honest endeavours, and through many self-denials, had raised his father’s house from its depressed condition, and had made the future prospects of his mother and sister comfortable and secure: he was a man self-dependent, upright, and good yes, good, and that I discover more and more the deeper knowledge I obtain of his true character, even though the outward manner may be somewhat severe in truth, I feel myself very inferior beside him.

The first year of our marriage we passed, at their desire, in the house of my parents; and if I could only have been less conscious of his superiority, and could only have been more certain that he was satisfied with me, nothing would have been wanting to my happiness. Everybody waited upon me; and perhaps it was on this account that Ernst, in comparison, seemed somewhat cold; I was the petted child of my too kind parents; I was thankless and peevish, and ah, some little of this still remains! Nevertheless, it was during this very time that, under the influence of my husband, the true beauty and reality of life became more and more perceptible to my soul. Married life and family ties, one’s country and the world, revealed their true relationships, and their holy signification to my mind. Ernst was my teacher; I looked up to him with love, but not without fear.

Many were the projects which we formed in these summer days, and which floated brightly before my romantic fancy. Among these was a journey on foot through the beautiful country west of Sweden, and this was one of the favourite schemes of my Ernst. His mother from whom our little Petrea has derived her somewhat singular name was of Norway, and many a beloved thought of her seemed to have interwoven itself with the valleys and mountains, which, as in a wonderfully-beautiful fairy tale, she had described to him in the stories she told. All these recollections are a sort of romantic region in Ernst’s soul, and thither he betakes himself whenever he would refresh his spirit, or lay out something delightful for the future. “Next year,” he would then exclaim, “will we take a journey!” And then we laid out together our route on the map, and I determined on the dress which I would wear as his travelling-companion when we would go and visit “that sea-engarlanded Norway.” Ah! there soon came for me other journeys.

It was during these days also that my first-born saw the light; my beautiful boy! who so fettered both my love and my thoughts that Ernst grew almost jealous. How often did I steal out of bed at night in order to watch him while he slept! He was a lively, restless child, and it therefore was a peculiar pleasure for me to see him at rest; besides which, he was so angelically lovely in sleep! I could have spent whole nights bending over his cradle.

So far, Cecilia, all went with us as in the romances with which we in our youth nourished heart and soul. But far other times came. In the first place, the sad change in the circumstances of my parents, which operated so severely on our position in life; and then for me so many children cares without end, grief and sickness! My body and mind must both have given way under their burden, had Ernst not been the man he is.

It suited his character to struggle against the stream; it was a sort of pleasure to him to combat with it, to meet difficulties, and to overcome them. With each succeeding year he imposed more business upon himself, and by degrees, through the most resolute industry, he was enabled to bring back prosperity to his house. And then how unwearingly kind he was to me! How tenderly sustaining in those very moments, when without him I must have found myself so utterly miserable! How many a sleepless night has he passed on my account! How often has he soothed to sleep a sickly child in his arms! And then, too, every child which came, as it were only to multiply his cares, and increase the necessity for his labour, was to him a delight was received as a gift of God’s mercy and its birth made a festival in the house. How my heart has thanked him, and how has his strength and assurance nerved me!

When little Gabriele was born I was very near death; and it is my firm belief that, without Ernst’s care for me, I must then have parted from my little ones. During the time of great weakness which succeeded this, my foot scarcely ever touched the ground. I was carried by Ernst himself wherever I would. He was unwearied in goodness and patience towards the sick mother. Should she not now, that she is again in health, dedicate her life to him? Ah, yes, that should she, and that will she! Alas, were but my ability as strong as my will!

Do you know one thing, Cecilia, which often occasions me great trouble? It is that I am not a clever housewife; that I can neither take pleasure in all the little cares and details which the well-being of a house really requires, nor that I have memory for these things; more especially is the daily caring for dinner irksome to me. I myself have but little appetite; and it is so unpleasing to me to go to sleep at night, and to get up in the morning with my head full of schemes for cooking. By this means, it happens that sometimes my husband’s domestic comforts are not such as he has a right to demand. Hitherto my weak health, the necessary care of the children, and our rather narrow circumstances, have furnished me with sufficient excuses; but these now will avail me no longer; my health is again established, and our greater prosperity furnishes the means for better household management.

On this account, I now exert myself to perform all my duties well; but, ah! how pleasant it will be when the little Louise is sufficiently grown up, that I may lay part of the housekeeping burdens on her shoulders. I fancy to myself that she will have peculiar pleasure in all these things.

I am to-day two-and-thirty years old. It seems to me that I have entered a new period of my life: my youth lies behind me, I am advanced into middle age, and I well know what both this and my husband have a right to demand from me. May a new and stronger being awake in me! May God support me, and Ernst be gentle towards his erring wife!

Ernst should have married a more energetic woman. My nervous weakness makes my temper irritable, and I am so easily annoyed. His activity of mind often disturbs me more than it is reasonable or right that it should; for instance, I get regularly into a state of excitement, if he only steadfastly fixes his eyes on a wall, or on any other object. I immediately begin to fancy that we are going instantly to have a new door opened, or some other change brought about. And oh! I have such a great necessity for rest and quiet!

One change which is about to take place in our house I cannot anticipate without uneasiness. It is the arrival of a candidate of Philosophy, Jacob Jacobi, as tutor for my children. He will this summer take my wild boy under his charge, and instruct the sisters in writing, drawing, and arithmetic; and in the autumn conduct my first-born from the maternal home to a great educational institution. I dread this new member in our domestic circle; he may, if he be not amiable, so easily prove so annoying; yet, if he be amiable and good, he will be so heartily welcome to me, especially as assistant in the wearisome writing lessons, with their eternal “Henrik, sit still!” “Hold the pen properly, Louise!” “Look at the copy, Leonore!” “Don’t forget the points and strokes, Eva!” “Little Petrea, don’t wipe out the letters with your nose!” Besides this, my first-born begins to have less and less esteem for my Latin knowledge; and Ernst is sadly discontented with his wild pranks. Jacobi will give him instruction, together with Nils Gabriel, the son of the District-Governor, Stjernhoek, a most industrious and remarkably sensible boy, from whose influence on my Henrik I hope for much good.

The Candidate is warmly recommended to us by a friend of my husband, the excellent Bishop B.; yet, notwithstanding this, his actions at the University did not particularly redound to his honour. Through credulity and folly he has run through a nice little property which had been left him by three old aunts, who had brought him up and spoiled him into the bargain. Indeed, his career has hitherto not been quite a correct one. Bishop B. conceals nothing of all this, but says that he is much attached to the young man; praises his heart, and his excellent gifts as a preceptor, and prays us to receive him cordially, with all parental tenderness, into our family. We shall soon see whether he be deserving of such hearty sympathy. For my part, I must confess that my motherly tenderness for him is as yet fast asleep.

Yet, after all, this inmate does not terrify me half as much as a visit with which I am shortly threatened. Of course you have heard of the lady of the late Colonel S., the beautiful Emilie, my husband’s “old flame,” as I call her, out of a little malice for all the vexation her perfections, which are so very opposite to mine, have occasioned me. She has been now for several years a widow, has lived long abroad, and now will pay us a visit on her return to her native land. Ernst and she have always kept up the most friendly understanding with each other, although she refused his hand; and it is a noble characteristic of my Ernst, and one which, in his sex, is not often found, that this rejection did not make him indifferent to the person who gave it. On the contrary, he professes the most warm admiration of this Emilie, and has not ceased to correspond with her; and I, for I read all their letters, cannot but confess her extraordinary knowledge and acuteness. But to know all this near is what I would indeed be very gladly excused, since I cannot help thinking that my husband’s “old flame” has something of cold-heartedness in her, and my heart has no great inclination to become warm towards her.

It strikes ten o’clock. Ernst will not come home before twelve. I shall leave you now, Cecilia, that shall I confess my secret to you? You know that one of my greatest pleasures is the reading of a good novel, but this pleasure I have almost entirely renounced, because whenever I have a really interesting one in my hand, I find the most cruel difficulty in laying it down before I reach the last page. That, however, does not answer in my case; and since the time when through the reading of Madame De Stael’s Corinne, two dinners, one great wash, and seventeen lesser domestic affairs all came to a stand-still, and my domestic peace nearly suffered shipwreck, I have made a resolution to give up all novel-reading, at least for the present. But still it is so necessary for me to have some literary relaxation of the kind, that since I read no more novels, I have myself begun to write one. Yes, Cecilia, my youthful habits will not leave me, even in the midst of the employments and prosaic cares of every-day life; and the flowers which in the morning-tide cast their fragrance so sweetly around me, will yet once more bloom for me in remembrance, and encircle my drooping head with a refreshing garland. The joyful days which I passed by your side; the impressions and the agreeable scenes now they seem doubly so which made our youth so beautiful, so lively, and so fresh, all these I will work out into one significant picture, before the regular flight of years has made them perish from my soul. This employment enlivens and strengthens me; and if, in an evening, my nervous toothache, which is the certain result of over-exertion or of vexation, comes on, there is nothing which will dissipate it like the going on with my little romance. For this very reason, therefore, because this evening my old enemy has plagued me more than common, I have recourse to my innocent opiate.

But Ernst shall not find me awake when he returns: this I have promised him. Good night, sweet Cecilia!

We will now, in this place, give a little description of the letter-writer of the mother of Henrik, Louise, Eva, Leonore, Petrea, and Gabriele.

Beautiful she certainly was not, but nature had given to her a noble growth, which was still as fine and delicate as that of a young girl. The features were not regular, but the mouth was fresh and bewitching, the lips of a lovely bright red, the complexion fair, and the clear blue eyes soft and kind. All her actions were graceful: she had beautiful hands which is something particularly lovely in a lady yet she was not solicitous to keep them always in view, and this beautified them still more. She dressed with much taste, almost always in light colours; this and the soft rose scent which she loved, and which always accompanied her, lent to her whole being a something especially mild and agreeable. One might compare her to moonlight; she moved softly, and her voice was low and sweet, which, as Shakspeare says, is “an excellent thing in woman.” Seeing her, as one often might do, reclining on a soft couch, playing with a flower or caressing a child, one could scarcely fancy her the superintendent of a large household, with all its appertaining work-people and servants; and beyond this, as the instructor of many children: yet love and sense of duty had led her to the performance of all this, had reconciled her to that which her natural inclinations were so averse to; nay, by degrees indeed, had made these very cares dear to her whatever concerned the children lay near to her heart, whilst order, pleasantness, and peace, regulated the house. The contents of the linen-press were dear to her; a snow-white tablecloth was her delight; grey linen, dust, and flies, were hated by her, as far as she could hate anything.

But let us now proceed with our historical sketches.

We left Elise at her manuscript, by which she became soon so deeply occupied that the clock struck twelve unperceived by her; nor was she aware of the flight of time till a sudden terror thrilled her as she heard her husband return. To throw her manuscript into her drawer, and quickly undress, had been an easy thing for her, and she was about to do so, when the thought occurred, “I have never hitherto kept my proceedings secret from Ernst, and to-day I will not begin to do so;” and she remained at her writing-table till he entered the room.

“What! yet up, and writing?” said he, with a displeased glance. “Is it thus you keep your promise, Elise?”

“Pardon me, Ernst,” said she; “I had forgotten myself.”

“And for what?” asked he. “What are you writing? No, let me see! What! a novel, as I live! Now, what use is this?”

“What use is it?” returned Elise. “Ah, to give me pleasure.”

“But people should have sense and reason in their pleasures,” said the Judge. “Now it gives me no pleasure at all that you should sit up at night ruining your eyes on account of a miserable novel; if there were a fire here I would burn the rubbish!”

“It would be a great deal better,” returned Elise, mildly, “if you went to bed and said your prayers piously, rather than thought about such an auto-da-fe. How have you amused yourself at the Governor’s?”

“You want now to be mixing the cards,” said he. “Look at me, Elise; you are pale; your pulse is excited! Say my prayers, indeed! I have a great mind to give you a lecture, that I have! Is it reasonable is it prudent to sit up at night and become pale and sleepless, in order to write what is good for nothing? It really makes me quite angry that you can be so foolish, so childish! It certainly is worth while your going to baths, sending to the east and to the west to consult physicians, and giving oneself all kind of trouble to regain your health, when you go and do every possible thing you can in the world to destroy it!”

“Do not be angry, Ernst,” besought Elise; “do not look so stern on me to-night, Ernst; no, not to-night.”

“Yes, indeed!” replied he, but in a tone which had become at once milder, “because it is two-and-thirty years to-day since you came into the world, do you think that you have a right to be absolutely childish?”

“Put that down to my account,” said Elise, smiling, yet with a tear in her eye.

“Put it down! put it down!” repeated the Judge. “Yes, I suppose so. People go on putting down neck or nothing till it’s a pretty fool’s business. I should like to pack all novels and novel-writers out of the world together! The world never will be wise till that is done; nor will you either. In the mean time, however, it is as well that I have found you awake, else I must have woke you to prove that you cannot conceal from me, not even for once, how old you are. Here then is the punishment for your bad intention.”

“Ah! Walter Scott’s romances!” exclaimed Elise, receiving a set of volumes from her husband; “and such a magnificent edition! Thanks! thanks! you good, best Ernst! But you are a beautiful lawgiver; you promote the very things which you condemn!”

“Promise me, only,” returned he, “not to spend the night in reading or writing novels. Think only how precious your health is to so many of us! Do you think I should be so provoked, if you were less dear to me? Do you comprehend that? In a few years, Elise,” added he, “when the children are older, and you are stronger, we will turn a summer to really good account, and take our Norwegian journey. You shall breathe the fresh mountain air, and see the beautiful valleys and the sea, and that will do you much more good than all the mineral waters in the world. But come now, let us go and see the children; we will not wake them, however, although I have brought with me some confectionery from the lady hostess, which I can lay on their pillows. There is a rennet for you.”

The married pair went into the children’s room, where the faithful old Fin-woman, Brigitta, lay and guarded, like the dragon, her treasures. The children slept as children sleep. The father stroked the beautiful curling hair of the boy, but impressed a kiss on the rosy cheek of each girl. After this the parents returned to their own chamber. Elise lay down to rest; her husband sate down to his desk, but so as to shade the light from his wife. The low sounds of a pen moving on paper came to her ear as if in sleep. As the clock struck two she awoke, and he was still writing.

Few men required and allowed themselves so little rest as Ernst Frank.