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185

(1921) Author: Sigrid Undset
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left, but, my dear child, you cannot really mean that one
should quench every affection at its birth unless one can
guarantee the moment it comes into life that it will last until
one’s death, endure all adversity, be ready for every sacrifice,
and that it will understand the personality of its object as in a
vision, show up its most sacred depths to prevent later change
of opinion about him or her.”

“Yes,” said Jenny sharply.

“Have you ever felt this yourself?” asked Gram.

“No, but I know it, all the same. I have always known
that it should be so. But when I was twenty-eight and still an
old maid, longing to love and be loved, and Helge came and
fell in love with me, I laid aside all claims on myself and my
love, taking what I could get — to a certain extent in good faith.
It will be all right, I thought — I am sure it will — although I
did not feel assured in my inmost heart that nothing else could
be possible. Let me tell you what my friend Heggen told me
the other day. He despises women truly and honestly — and
he is right. We have no self-esteem, and we are so lazy that
we can never make up our mind in earnest to shape our life and
happiness ourselves, and to work with that purpose. Secretly
we all nourish the hope that a man will come and offer us
happiness, so that we need not make any effort ourselves. The
most womanly of us, who by happiness mean only idleness and
finery, hang on to the man who can give them plenty of it.
If amongst us there are a few who really have the right
feelings and are longing to become good and strong, and making
efforts in that direction — we still hope to meet a man on the
way and to become what we want to be through his love.

“We can work for a time pretty honestly and seriously, and
take a pleasure in it too, but in our hearts we are waiting for
a still greater joy, which we cannot acquire by our work, but
must receive as a gift. We women can never get to the point
where our work is everything to us.”

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