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

THE EVENING BEFORE THE WEDDING.

“God bless the little ones! But when one considers how little of a rarity children are in this world, one has only to open one’s mouth to say so, and people are all up in arms and make such a stir and such an ado about their little ones! Heart’s-dearest! People may call them angels as much as ever they will, but I would willingly have my knees free from them! But worst of all is it with the first child in a family! Oh, it is a happiness and a miracle, and cannot be enough overloaded with caresses and presents from father and mother, and aunts and cousins, and all the world. Does it scream and roar then it is a budding genius; is it silent then it is a philosopher in its cradle; and scarcely is it eight days old but it understands Swedish and almost German also! And it bites, the sweet angel! it has got a tooth! It bites properly. Ah, it is divine! Then comes the second child: it is by far less wonderful already; its cry and its teeth are not half so extraordinary. The third comes; it is all over with miracles now! the aunts begin to shake their heads, and say, ’no lack of heirs in the house! Nay, nay, may there be only enough to feed them all.’ After this comes a fourth, and a fifth, and a sixth yes, then people’s wits are set in full play! The parents resign themselves, but the friends defend themselves! Heart’s-dearest, what is to become of it? The house full of children, there’s soon a dozen of them! Poor Mrs. This and This it makes one quite weak both in body and mind only to think of it! Yes, yes, my friends, people don’t put these things down in romances, but it goes on in this way in real life! Yes!”

It was the Chamberlain’s lady who preached this little sermon, in the zeal of her spirit, to the young couple who the next day were to be man and wife. She ate on this evening Whitsuntide-porridge with the Franks, and all the while gave sundry lessons for the future. Jacobi laughed heartily over the history of the children, and endeavoured to catch Louise’s eye; but this was fixed upon the Postillion, which she was arranging with a very important and grave aspect. The Judge and Elise looked smilingly on each other, and extended to each other their hands.

The state of feeling in the family, for the rest of the evening, was quite rose-coloured. Letters had been received from Petrea which gave contentment to all her friends, and Eva sate in the family circle with returning, although as yet pale roses on her cheeks. The Judge sate between Eva and Leonore, laying out on the map the plan of the summer tour. They would visit Thistedal, Ringerig, and Tellemark, and would go through Trondhiem to Norland, where people go to salute the midnight sun.

Gabriele looked after her flowers, and watered the myrtle tree from which next morning she would break off sprays wherewith to weave a crown and garland for Louise. Jacobi sate near the mother, and seemed to have much to say to her; what it was, however, nobody heard, but he often conveyed her hand to his lips, and seemed as if he were thanking her for his life’s happiness. He looked gentle and happy. Every thing was prepared for the morrow, so that this evening would be spent in quiet.

According to Jacobi’s wish the marriage was to take place in the church, and after this they were all to dine en famille. In the evening, however, a large company was to be assembled in the S. saloon, which with its adjoining garden had been hired for the purpose. This was according to the wish of the father, who desired that for the last time, perhaps for many years, his daughter should collect around her all her acquaintance and friends, and thus should show to them, at the same time, welcome politeness. He himself, with the help of Jacobi and Leonore, who was everybody’s assistant, had taken upon himself the arrangement of this evening’s festival, that his wife might not be fatigued and disturbed by it.

At supper the betrothed sat side by side, and Jacobi behaved sometimes as if he would purposely seize upon his bride’s plate as well as his own, which gave rise to many dignified looks, to settings-to-rights again, and a deal of merriment besides.

Later in the evening, when they all went to rest, Louise found her toilet-table covered with presents from bridegroom, parents, sisters, and friends. A great deal of work was from Petrea. These gifts awakened in Louise mingled feelings of joy and pain, and as she hastened yet once again to embrace the beloved ones from whom she was about so soon to separate, many mutual tears were shed. But evening dew is prophetic of a bright morrow that was the case here.