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

YET MORE WOOING.

Early on the following morning Eva received a nosegay of beautiful moss-roses, among which was a letter to herself; she tore it open, and red the following words:

“I have dreamed that I could live; and truly a life more beautiful and more perfect than any romance makes one dream of. Little Miss Eva, whom I have so often carried in my arms good young girl, whom I would so willingly sustain on my breast through, life, thou must hear what I have dreamed, what I sometimes still dream.

“I dreamed that I was a rough, unsightly rock, repulsive and unfruitful. But a heart beat in the rock a chained heart. It beat against the walls of its prison till it bled, because it longed to be abroad in the sunshine, but it could not break its bonds. I could not free myself from myself. The rock wept because it was so hard, because it was a prison for its own life. There came a maiden, a light gentle angel, wandering through the wood, and laid her warm lily-white hand on the rock, and pressed her pure lips upon it, breathing a magical word of freedom. The rocky wall opened itself, and the heart, the poor captive heart, saw the light! The young girl went into the chamber of the heart, and called it her home; and suddenly beautiful roses, which diffused odours around, sprang forth from that happy heart towards its liberator, whilst the chambers of the heart vaulted itself high above her into a temple for her, clothing its walls with fresh foliage and with precious stones, upon which the sunbeams played.

“I awoke from a sense of happiness that was too great to be borne on earth; I awoke, and ah! the roses were vanished, the lovely girl was vanished, and I was once again the hard, unsightly, and joyless rock. But do you see, young maiden, the idea will not leave me, that those roses which I saw in my dream are hidden in me; that they may yet bloom, yet rejoice and make happy. The idea will remain with me that this reserved, melancholy heart might yet expand itself by an affectionate touch; that there are precious stones within it, which would beam brightly for those who called them forth into light.

“Good young maiden, will you not venture on the attempt? Will you not lay your warm hand on the rock? Will you not breathe softly upon it? Oh, certainly, certainly under your touch it would soften it would bring forth roses for you it would exalt itself into a temple for you, a temple full of hymns of thanksgiving, full of love!

“I know that I am old, old before my time; that I am ugly and disagreeable, unpleasant, and perhaps ridiculous; but I do not think that nature intended me to be so. I have gone through life in such infinite solitude; neither father nor mother, brother nor sister, have followed my path; no sunshine fell upon my childhood or my youth; I have wandered solitarily through life, combating with difficulties. Once I bound myself to a friend he deserted me, and thence grew the rock about my heart; thence became my demeanour severe, unattractive, and rough. Is it to remain so always? Will my life never bloom upon earth? Will no breath of heaven call forth my roses?

“Do you fear my melancholy temperament? Oh, you have not seen how a glance, a word of yours chases every cloud from my brow; not because you are beautiful, but because you are good and pure. Will you teach me to be good? I will learn willingly from you! From you I would learn to love mankind, and to find more good in the world than I have hitherto done. I will live for you, if not for the world. By my wish the world should know nothing of me till the cross upon my grave told ‘here rests ’

“Oh, it is beautiful to live nameless under the poisoned glance of the world; poisoned, whether it praise or blame; beautiful, not to be polluted by its observation, but more beautiful to be intimately known to one to possess one gentle and honest friend, and that one a wife! Beautiful to be able to look into her pure soul as in a mirror, and to be aware there of every blot on one’s own soul, and to be able thus to purify it against the day of the great trial.

“But I speak only of myself and my own happiness. Ah, the
egotist the cursed egotist! Can I make you happy also, Eva? Is it
not audacity in me to desire ah, Eva, I love you inexpressibly!

“I leave the egotist in your hand: do with him what you will, he
will still remain

“Yours.”

This letter made Eva very anxious and uneasy. She would so willingly have said yes, and made so good a man happy, but then so many voices within her said no!

She spoke with her parents, with her brother and sisters. “He is so good, so excellent!” said she. “Ah, if I could but properly love him! But I cannot and then he is so old; and I have no desire to marry; I am so happy in my own home.”

“And do not leave it!” was the unanimous chorus of all the family. The father, indeed, was actually desperate with all this courtship; and the mother thought it quite absurd that her blooming Eva and Jeremias Munter should go together. No one voice spoke for the Assessor but the little Petrea’s, and a silent sigh in Eva’s own bosom. The result of all this consideration was, that Eva wrote with tearful eyes the following answer to her lover:

“My best, my truly good Friend!

“Ah! do not be angry with me that I cannot become for you that which you wish. I shall certainly not marry. I am too happy in my own home for that. Ah! this to be sure is egotistical, but I cannot do otherwise. Forgive me! I am so very much, so heartily attached to you; and I should never be happy again if you love not hitherto as formerly

“Your little “Eva.”

In the evening Eva received a beautiful and costly work-box, with the following lines:

“Yes, yes, I can very well believe that the rough rock would be appalling. You will not venture to lay your delicate white hand upon it, little Miss Eva; will not trouble yourself to breathe warmth upon my poor roses! Let them then remain in their grave!

“I shall now make a journey, nor see you again for a year and a day. But, good heavens! as you have given me a basket, you shall receive in return a little box. I bought it for my bride, Eva! Yet now, after all, Eva shall have it; shall keep it for my sake. She may return it when I cease to be

“Her true and devoted Friend.”

“Do you think she is sorry for what she has done?” asked the Judge anxiously from his wife, as he saw Eva’s hot tears falling on the work-box; “but it cannot be helped. She marry! and that too with Munter! She is indeed nothing but a child! But that is just the way; when one has educated one’s daughters, and taught them something of good manners, just when one has begun to have real pleasure in them, that one must lose them must let them go to China if the lover chance to be a Chinese! It is intolerable! It is abominable! I would not wish my worst enemy the pain of having grown-up daughters. Is not Schwartz already beginning to draw a circle about Sara? Good gracious! if we should yet have the plague of another lover!”