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177

(1921) Author: Sigrid Undset
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I?’ and ‘Do you think the sauce is all right, Lennart?’ and
so on the whole time. She has taken to speaking a shocking
mixture of Swedish and Norwegian. I must say that I don’t
quite understand their relations. He was very much in love
with her, you remember, and he is not despotic or brutal —
quite the contrary — but she has become so cowed and humble,
our little Cesca. It cannot be housekeeping worries only,
although they seemed to weigh heavily on her. She has no talent
in that direction, but she is a conscientious little thing in her
way, and they are rather badly off, I understand.

“Perhaps she has made some great mistake, profited by the
wedding night, for instance, to tell him about Hans Hermann,
Norman Douglas, and Hjerrild, and all the rest of her
achievements from one end to the other. It might have been just a little
overwhelming.”

“Cesca has never concealed anything about her doings. I
am sure he knew all her story before.”

“H’m,” said Gunnar, mixing himself a fresh drink. “There
might have been one or two points she has kept quiet so far,
and thought she ought to tell her husband.”

“For shame, Gunnar,” said Jenny.

“Well — you never really know what to think about Cesca.
Her version of the Hans Hermann business is very peculiar,
though I am sure Cesca has not done anything that I would
call wrong. I cannot — on the whole — see what difference
it makes to a man if his wife has had a liaison — or several —
before, provided she had been true and loyal while it lasted.
This claim of physical innocence is crude. If a woman has
been really fond of a man and has accepted his love, it is rather
mean of her to leave him without spending a gift on him.

“Naturally I should prefer my wife never to have loved
anybody else before, so, perhaps, when it is your own wife you
may think differently. Old prejudices and selfish vanity may
count for something.”

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