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186

(1921) Author: Sigrid Undset
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“Do you believe work alone is enough for a man? Never,”
said Gram.

“It is for Gunnar. You may depend on it that he will keep
women in their right place in his life — as trifles.”

Gram laughed: “How old is your friend Heggen? I hope
for the man’s own sake that he will change his opinion some
day about the most conclusive influence in life.”

“I don’t,” said Jenny vehemently, “but I hope I, too, shall
learn some day to put this nonsense about love in its right
place.”

“My dear Jenny, you speak as if — as if you had no sense,
I was going to say, but I know you have,” said Gram, with a
melancholy smile. “Shall I tell you something of what I know
about love, little one? If I did not believe in it, I should not
have the least particle of faith in men — or in myself. Do you
believe that it is only women who think life meaningless, and
find their hearts empty and frozen if they have nothing but
their work to love or to depend upon? Do you believe there
is a single soul living who has not moments of doubt in
himself? You must have somebody in whose keeping you can
give the best in you — your love and your trust.

“When I say that my own life since my marriage has been
a hell, I am not using too strong words, and if I have been able
to stand it in a way it is because I think the love Rebecca has
for me partly exonerates her. I know that her feelings of
mean pleasure at having the power to torment and humiliate
me with her jealousy and rage are a caricature of betrayed love,
and it is a kind of satisfaction to my sense of justice that there
is a reason for my unhappiness. I betrayed her when I took
her love without giving her mine — intending secretly to give
her only crumbs — the small coin of love — in payment for
the best of herself she offered me. If life punishes every sin
against the sacredness of love so ruthlessly, it proves to me that
there is nothing holier in life, and that he who is true to his

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