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


Too many chaotic elements had collected together in the family of the Franks for one sun-gleam to dissipate. Even the married pair did not clearly understand their own actions.

The Judge, truly, was too much enchanted by his former beloved one; and the beautiful Emelie did all that was in her power to enslave again her early adorer.

Judge Frank, who would have been as cold and proud as possible, if he had been assailed by coarse and direct flattery, was yet by no means steeled against the refined and almost imperceptible flattery of Emelie, who, with all her peculiar gifts of soul and understanding, made herself subordinate to him, in order to be enlightened and instructed by him.

“An extraordinarily amiable and interesting lady,” thought he still with greater animation, although he seldom asserted so much; and exactly in the proportion in which he found Emelie interesting, it was natural that he should find Elise less so, especially as he found in Emelie precisely those very qualities, the want of which he had so much regretted in his wife; namely, an interest in his activity as a citizen, and in general for the objects connected with which he occupied himself in the liveliest manner.

Elise, on her part, was neither calm nor clear. The connexion between her husband and Emelie was painful to her; and she felt a sort of consolation from the devotion of Jacobi, even when it was beginning to assume that passionate character which made her seriously uneasy.

A letter, which she wrote to her sister about this time, exhibits her state of feeling:

“It is long since I wrote to you, Cecilia I hardly know why; I hardly know, indeed, my own feelings all is so unquiet, so undefined. I wish it were clear!

“Do you know she is very lovely, this ‘old flame’ of my husband’s, and very brilliant. I fancy I am jealous of her. Last evening I went out to a supper-party the first for several years. I dressed myself with great care, for I wished to please Ernst, and had flowers in my hair. I was greatly satisfied with my appearance when I went. My husband was to come later. I found Emelie already there; she was beautiful, and looked most elegant. They placed me beside her; a looking-glass was before us, on which I threw stolen glances, and saw opposite to me a shadow! I thought at first it was some illusion, and looked again: but again it revealed unmercifully to me a pale ghost beside the beautiful and dazzling Emelie. ‘It is all over, irremediably over,’ thought I, ’with my youth and my bloom! But if my husband and children only can love me, I can then resign youth and beauty.’

“But again I felt compelled to look at the shadow in the glass, and grew quite melancholy. Emelie also cast glances at the mirror, and drew comparisons, but with feelings far different to mine. Then came Ernst, and I saw that he too made comparisons between us.

“He was, all this evening, very much occupied with Emelie. I felt unwell and weak; I longed so to support myself on his arm; but he did not come near me the whole time: perhaps he imagined I was out of humour perhaps I looked so. Ah! I returned home before supper, and he remained. As I drove home through those deserted streets in the wretched hackney-coach, a sense of misery came over my heart such as I cannot describe; many a bitter thought was awakened within me, before which I trembled.

“At the door of my own home I met Jacobi; he had sate up for me, and wished to tell me something amusing about my children. He seemed to have foreboded my feelings this evening. My favourite fruit, which he had provided for me, should have refreshed me. His friendship and his devotion cheered me. There is something so beautiful in feeling oneself beloved.

“Every new emotion, every new connexion, among men, has its danger, its temptation; the most beautiful, the most noble, may have their dangerous tendency. Oh! how is this to be prevented without a separation? how is the poison to be avoided without deadening the sting? Oh, Cecilia! at this moment I need a friend; I need you, to whom I could turn, and from whom, in these disquieting circumstances, I in my weakness could derive light and strength. I am discontented with myself; I am discontented with Ah! he alone it is who, if he would, could make all right!

“Oh, Cecilia, this is a mist-enveloped hour of my life! does it announce day or night? My glance is dark; I see the path no longer! But I will resign myself into the hand of Him who said, ’let there be light.’

“All is now better and clearer! God be praised! In a few hours this day will be over; I long vehemently for it!

“This evening we have a children’s dance at our house. Emelie will be here also. There is not a good understanding between us two. She is cold to me, too witty, and too , but I will do my best to be a good hostess; and when the day is ended, I will sit and look at my beautiful sleeping boy, and be happy in my children.”