Skip to main content

Full text of "Elective affinities : a novel"

See other formats






(A) -i VOL. 

- - 












































A n the hour of noon, on the twenty-eighth day of 
August, in the year 1749, there was born, in 
the city of Frankfort, Germany's king of letters. 
The father of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a gen- 
tleman of leisure, who had married a lady of high 
social standing, his junior by twenty years. Frau Goethe 
threw herself with ardor into the education of her son, 
than whom few children more precocious ever breathed : 
at the age of six, on being told about the earthquake of 
Lisbon, he expressed doubts concerning the wisdom of 
God. As for the qualities he may have inherited from 
his parents, we have his own testimony in rime, of which 
the following would convey the general meaning : 

My father upon reason set high store, 
He was a man of system and tenacity ; 

But mother would in nights of fancy soar , 
She'd a spontaneous wit and keen vivacity. 

His first acquaintance with the acted drama Goethe 
obtained at the age of ten, while the French army occu- 
pied Frankfort, and plays by Corneille and Moliere were 
performed by a French troupe. At fifteen the boy fore- 
shadowed the man by falling desperately in love with an 
innocent young creature called Gretchen, with whom he 


Life of Goethe 

had many stolen interviews. In 1765 he was sent to 
Leipsic to study law, by which time he had developed 
habits of deep thoughtfulness and a strong vein of mel- 
ancholy. His amatory disposition again declared itself 
in Leipsic, where he fell a prey to the charms of Anna 
Schonkopf, the member of a family at whose house he 
took meals. The affair with Anna her affection for 
him was lukewarm, and they often quarreled gave rise 
to Goethe's first play, "A Lover's Whim," followed at 
a year's date by another, "The Accomplices." These 
were the chief products of his student days. Upon their 
termination he went back to Frankfort, proceeding to 
Strasburg in 1770. Here he met the poet Herder, then 
only twenty-six, and Herder's example, as Goethe him- 
self says, gave sharp spur to his poetical aspirations. 
But as one can not speak of Goethe's life without con- 
stant reference to the "eternally feminine/'we must men- 
tion his reciprocated passion for Friederike Brion, the 
daughter of a clergyman at Sesenheim; to her he dedi- 
cated some charming lyrics, which, owing to the poet's 
increased human experience, showed much less stiffness 
and artificiality than former efforts. 

When Goethe was twenty-three he found himself 
placed among persons and in circumstances that finally 
conduced to the publication of the renowned "Sorrows 
of Young Werther" (1774). It was in Wetzlar that 
the author fell in love with Charlotte Buff the suppos- 
edly married Lotte of the novel betrothed to one of his 
friends. The poet had almost determined to propose an 


Life of Goethe 

elopement, when he underwent a revulsion of feeling 
for the better, and suddenly left the town. Just then 
he heard of a young man having shot himself, because 
of his passion for a married woman, with a pistol bor- 
rowed from Charlotte Buff's intended. "The Sorrows 
of Young Werther," based on these episodes, created an 
international sensation, and, in Germany, an epidemic of 
melancholy countenances and suicides, in imitation of the 
tearful, self-despatching hero. 1774 was a busy year with 
the author, for he also wrote two plays, "Stella" and 
"Clavigo," as well as the first scenes of "Faust." Still, 
he had time for another distraction of the heart, the 
wound being inflicted by Lili Schonemann; marriage 
was talked about, but nothing came of it, and Goethe 
sought relief for his unhappiness in a visit to Switzer- 
land and a journey up the Rhine. 

In 1775 he received an invitation to the court of 
Charles Augustus, Duke of Weimar. Goethe and the 
Duke quickly conceived a warm regard for each other, 
and in fact became the closest of intimates. Charles 
Augustus was himself a man of very high culture and at- 
tainments; Goethe, Schiller, Wieland, Madame de Stael, 
and a host of minor notabilities were his friends ; his little 
capital earned the name of "The German Athens." He 
appointed Goethe a privy councilor, subsequently raising 
him to the nobility, and creating him Prime Minister of 
the Duchy. The statesman-poet's attachment to Char- 
lotte von Stein began soon after his arrival at Weimar, 
and lasted through the whole decade of his first sojourn 


Life of Goethe 

there. She was the wife of the ducal master of the horse, 
was older than her famous admirer, and had few preten- 
sions to beauty, but was possessed of much personal charm 
and rare mental gifts. As for Goethe, he was one of the 
handsomest men of his age according to Carlyle, of any 
age. The lady in question furnished traits for several 
heroines of the author's invention during this first Wei- 
mar period, while he was engaged upon his tragedies of 
"Iphigeneia in Tauris," "Torquato Tasso," and "Eg- 
mont," the long romance "Wilhelm Meister," and the 
humorous epic "Reynard the Fox." Whatever time was 
left over from official duties, social life, literary creation, 
and Frau von Stein, was given up to scientific investiga- 
tions. However, the day came when Goethe began to 
feel the need of a change, so, in 1786, he went away for 
two years' travel in Italy. There he finished "Egmont" 
and "Iphigeneia," and wrote the "Italian Letters." 

On returning to Weimar from Italy, Goethe was taken 
with a violent prepossession for a certain Christiane Vul- 
pius, a young orphan, the sister of an obscure, struggling 
poetaster. That the great man should not only conceive 
a fancy for this simple soul, who was rather coarse in 
appearance and without much education, but should in- 
stall her as his housekeeper, surprised his friends at court; 
and chilled them. Nevertheless, Christiane was a faith- 
ful and sympathetic companion to him for seventeen or 
eighteen years, when he married her, thus securing her 
position as his legatee and the legitimation of their son. 

Another important phase of his life was the friendship 


Life of Goethe 

with Schiller. Originally, the two met at Weimar in 
1788, but the sensitive Schiller then felt repelled by the 
apparent superciliousness of the more famous writer. A 
few years later, the acquaintance was renewed at Jena, 
under more favorable auspices, so that the two entered 
into correspondence, and Goethe was induced to con- 
tribute to Schiller's periodical, "Hours." They then 
collaborated in the issuance of "Xenien," a series of epi- 
grammatic trifles, and though both ventures were short- 
lived, Germany's pair of master poets were thereby drawn 
closely together the more so as both were attacked by 
jealous, mediocre scribblers of the press in rampant fash- 
ion. Schiller's untimely death was bitterly mourned by 
his illustrious contemporary. 

Goethe's unwearying muse was as active as ever in 
the second Weimar period. Thus, the year 1790 brought 
forth the "Roman Elegies"; 1794, "Reynard the Fox"; 
1797, that truly classical and truly German epic, "Her- 
mann and Dorothea," and a number of ballads as well. 
1805 saw the completion of "Wilhelm Meister's Appren- 
ticeship"; 1806, the publication of the first part of 
"Faust"; 1809, the appearance of "Elective Affinities." 
The Ottilie of "Elective Affinities" is said to represent 
Minna Herzlieb, a pretty girl of eighteen, with whom the 
author became enamored when he was long past fifty, 
and to whom he addressed numerous sonnets. In 1810 
he began upon his voluminous autobiography, comprising 
three distinct works : "Poetry and Truth" the story of 
his early years and start in literature; "Travels" an ac- 


Life of Goethe 

count of his wanderings in Italy, Switzerland, and Ger- 
many, and of the Prussian campaign against France in 
1792, which he witnessed in part; "Memoirs" the de- 
scription of the influences and associations most con- 
spicuous in the development of his mind. In 1819 the 
"West-Eastern Divan" was printed ; the Suleika of this 
collection of perfervid verses was Marianne von Wille- 
mer, a merchant's young wife infatuated with the poet. 
The first part of "Wilhelm Meister's Travels" was com- 
pleted in 1821, the second part not until eight years later, 
and the second part of "Faust" in 1831. Nor must one 
overlook the great quantity of poems streaming from 
Goethe's pen at all times: lyrics, parables, elegies, epi- 
grams, sonnets, ballads among which "Erl King," "The 
King of Thule," and "Mignon" are probably best known 
to American readers. 

During the second Weimar period, Goethe was director 
of the court theatre for some time, having then relin- 
quished most of his official duties. But his interest in 
science, and his labors in that field were persistent, though 
it must be stated that his too imaginative "Theory of 
Colors" has long since been repudiated by the scientific 
fraternity. He died on the 22d of March, 1832, at Wei- 
mar, where his earthly remains were set in the ducal 
vault between those of Schiller and Charles Augustus. 




EDWARD so we shall call a wealthy nobleman in the 
prime of life had been spending several hours of a fine 
April morning in his nursery-garden, budding the stems 
of some young trees with cuttings which had been re- 
cently sent to him. He had finished what he was about, 
and having laid his tools together in their box, was com- 
placently surveying his work, when the gardener came up 
and complimented his master on his industry. 

"Have you seen my wife anywhere?" inquired Ed- 
ward, as he moved to go away. 

"My lady is alone yonder in the new grounds/* said the 
man ; "the summer-house which she has been making on 
the rock over against the castle is finished to-day, and 
really it is beautiful. It can not fail to please your grace. 
The view from it is perfect the village at your feet; a 
little to your right the church, with its tower, which you 
can just see over; and directly opposite you, the castle 
and the garden." 

"Quite true," replied Edward ; "I can see the people at 
work a few steps from where I am standing." 

"And then, to the right of the church again," con- 
tinued the gardener, "is the opening of the valley; and 


Elective Affinities 

you look along over a range of wood and meadow far 
into the distance. The steps up the rock, too, are excel- 
lently arranged. My gracious lady understands these 
things ; it is a pleasure to work under her." 

"Go to her," said Edward, "and desire her to be so 
good as to wait for me there. Tell her I wish to see this 
new creation of hers, and enjoy it with her." 

The gardener went rapidly off, and Edward soon fol- 
lowed. Descending the terrace, and stopping as he passed 
to look into the hot-houses and the forcing-pits, he came 
presently to the stream, and thence, over a narrow bridge, 
to a place where the walk leading to the summer-house 
branched off in two directions. One path led across the 
churchyard, immediately up the face of the rock. The 
other, into which he struck, wound away to the left, with 
a more gradual ascent, through a pretty shrubbery. 
Where the two paths joined again, a seat had been made, 
where he stopped a few moments to rest; and then, fol- 
lowing the now single road, he found himself, after 
scrambling along among steps and slopes of all sorts and 
kinds, conducted at last through a narrow, more or less 
steep outlet to the summer-house. 

Charlotte was standing at the door to receive her hus- 
band. She made him sit down where, without moving, 
he could command a view of the different landscapes 
through the door and window these serving as frames, 
in which they were set like pictures. Spring was coming 
on ; a rich, beautiful life would soon everywhere be burst- 
ing; and Edward spoke of it with delight. 


Elective Affinities 

"There is only one thing which I should observe," he 
added, "the summer-house itself is rather small." 

"It is large enough for you and me, at any rate," an- 
swered Charlotte. 

"Certainly," said Edward; "there is room for a third, 
too, easily." 

"Of course; and for a fourth also," replied Charlotte. 
"For larger parties we can contrive other places." 

"Now that we are here by ourselves, with no one to 
disturb us, and in such a pleasant mood," said Edward, 
"it is a good opportunity for me to tell you that I have 
for some time had something on my mind, about which I 
have wished to speak to you, but have never been able to 
muster up my courage." 

"I have observed that there has been something, of the 
sort," said Charlotte. 

"And even now," Edward went on, "if it were not for 
a letter which the post brought me this morning, and 
which obliges me to come to some resolution to-day, I 
should very likely have still kept it to myself." 

"What is it, then?" asked Charlotte, turning affec- 
tionately toward him. 

"It concerns our friend the Captain," answered Ed- 
ward ; "you know the unfortunate position in which he, 
like many others, is placed. It is through no fault of his 
own; but you may imagine how painful it must be for 
a person with his knowledge and talents and accomplish- 
ments, to find himself without employment. I I will 
not hesitate any longer with what I am wishing for 


Elective Affinities 

him. I should like to have him here with' us for a 

"We must think about that," replied Charlotte; "it 
should be considered on more sides than one." 

"I am quite ready to tell you what I have in view," 
returned Edward. "Through his last letters there is a 
prevailing tone of despondency; not that he is really in 
any want. He knows thoroughly well how to limit his 
expenses; and I have taken care for everything abso- 
lutely necessary. It is no distress to him to accept obli- 
gations from me ; all our lives we have been in the habit 
of borrowing from and lending to each other; and we 
could not tell, if we would, how our debtor and creditor 
account stands. It is being without occupation which is 
really fretting him. The many accomplishments which 
he has cultivated in himself, it is his only pleasure in- 
deed, it is his passion to be daily and hourly exercising 
for the benefit of others. And now, to sit still, with his 
arms folded; or to go on studying, acquiring, and ac- 
quiring, when he can make no use of what he already 
possesses; my dear creature, it is a painful situation; 
and alone as he is, he feels it doubly and trebly." 

"But I thought," said Charlotte, "that he had had 
offers from many different quarters. I myself wrote to 
numbers of my own friends, male and female, for him; 
and, as I have reason to believe, not without effect." 

"It is true," replied Edward ; "but these very offers 
these various proposals have only caused him fresh em- 
barrassment Not one of them is at all suitable to such a 


Elective Affinities 

person as he is. He would have nothing to do ; he would 
have to sacrifice himself, his time, his purpose, his whole 
method of life ; and to that he can not bring himself. The 
more I think of it all, the more I feel about it, and the 
more anxious I am to see him here with us." 

"It is very beautiful and amiable in you," answered 
Charlotte, "to enter with so much sympathy into your 
friend's position ; only you must allow me to ask you to 
think of yourself and of me, as well." 

"I have done that," replied Edward. "For ourselves, 
we can have nothing to expect from his presence with us, 
except pleasure and advantage. I will say nothing of the 
expense. In any case, if he came to us, it would be but 
small; and you know he will be of no inconvenience 
to us at all. He can have his own rooms in the right 
wing of the castle, and everything else can be arranged as 
simply as possible. What shall we not be thus doing for 
him! and how agreeable and how profitable may not his 
society prove to us! I have long been wishing for a 
plan of the property and the grounds. He will see to 
it, and get it made. You intend yourself to take the 
management of the estate, as soon as our present stew- 
ard's term is expired; and that, you know, is a serious 
thing. His various information will be of immense benefit 
to us ; I feel only too acutely how much I require a per- 
son of this kind. The country people have knowledge 
enough, but their way of imparting it is confused, and not 
always honest. The students from the towns and univer- 
sities are sufficiently clever and orderly, but they are de- 


Elective Affinities 

ficient in personal experience. From my friend, I can 
promise myself both knowledge and method, and hun- 
dreds of other circumstances I can easily conceive aris- 
ing, affecting you as well as me, and from which I can 
foresee innumerable advantages. Thank you for so pa- 
tiently listening to me. Now, do you say what you think, 
and say it out freely and fully ; I will not interrupt you." 
"Very well," replied Charlotte; "I will begin at once 
with a general observation. Men think most of the im- 
mediate the present ; and rightly, their calling being to 
do and to work. Women, on the other hand, more of 
how things hang together in life; and that rightly too, 
because their destiny the destiny of their families is 
bound up in this interdependence, and it is exactly this 
which it is their mission to promote. So now let us cast 
a glance at our present and our past life; and you will 
acknowledge that the invitation of the Captain does not 
fall in so entirely with our purposes, our plans, and our 
arrangements. I will go back to those happy days of 
pur earliest intercourse. We loved each other, young as 
we then were, with all our hearts. We were parted: 
you from me your father, from an insatiable desire of 
wealth, choosing to marry you to an elderly and rich lady ; 
I from you, having to give my hand, without any espe- 
cial motive, to an excellent man, whom I respected, if I 
did not love. We became again free you first, your poor 
mother at the same time leaving you in possession of your 
large fortune; I later, just at the time when you returned 
from abroad. So we met once more. We spoke of the 


Elective Affinities 

past; we could enjoy and love the recollection of it; we 
might have been contented, in each other's society, to 
leave things as they were. You were urgent for our mar- 
riage. I at first hesitated. We were about the same age ; 
but I as a woman had grown older than you as a man. At 
last I could not refuse you what you seemed to think the 
one thing you cared for. All the discomfort which you 
had ever experienced, at court, in the army, or in travel- 
ing, you were to recover from at my side ; you would set- 
tle down and enjoy life; but only with me for your com- 
panion. I settled my daughter at a school, where she 
could be more completely educated than would be possible 
in the retirement of the country; and I placed my niece 
Ottilie there with her as well, who, perhaps, would have 
grown up better at home with me, under my own care. 
This was done with your consent, merely that we might 
have our own lives to ourselves merely that we might 
enjoy undisturbed our so-long-wished-for, so-long-delayed 
happiness. We came here and settled ourselves. I un- 
dertook the domestic part of the menage, you the out-of- 
doors, and the general control. My own principle has 
been to meet your wishes in everything, to live only for 
you. At least, let us give ourselves a fair trial how far 
in this way we can be enough for one another." 

"Since the interdependence of things, as you call it, 
is your especial element," replied Edward, "one should 
either never listen to any of your trains of reasoning, or 
make up one's mind to allow you to be in the right ; and, 
indeed, you have been in the right up to the present day. 

Elective Affinities 

The foundation which we have hitherto been laying for 
ourselves is of the true, sound sort ; only, are we to build 
nothing upon it? is nothing to be developed out of it? 
All the work we have done I in the garden, you in the 
park is it all only for a pair of hermits?" 

"Well, well," replied Charlotte, "very well. What 
we have to look to is, that we introduce no alien element, 
nothing which shall cross or obstruct us. Remember, our 
plans, even those which only concern our amusements, de- 
pend mainly on our being together. You were to read to 
me, in consecutive order, the journal which you made 
when you were abroad. You were to take the opportu- 
nity of arranging it, putting all the loose matter con- 
nected with it in its place ; and with me to work with you 
and help you, out of these invaluable but chaotic leaves 
and sheets to put together a complete thing, which should 
give the pleasure to ourselves and to others. I prom- 
ised to assist you in transcribing; and we thought it would 
be so pleasant, so delightful, so charming, to travel over 
in recollection the world which we were unable to see 
together. The beginning is already made. Then, in the 
evenings, you have taken up your flute again, accompany- 
ing me on the piano, while of visits backward and for- 
ward among the neighborhood, there is abundance. For 
my part, I have been promising myself out of all this the 
first really happy summer I have ever thought to spend in 
my life." 

"Only I can not see," replied Edward, rubbing his fore- 
head, "how, through every bit of this which you have 


Elective Affinities 

been so sweetly and so sensibly laying before me, the 
Captain's presence can be any interruption; I should 
rather have thought it would give it all f.esh zest and 
life. He was my companion during a part of my travels. 
He made many observations from a different point of 
view from mine. We can put it all together, and so 
make a charmingly complete work of it." 

"Well, then, I will acknowledge openly," answered 
Charlotte, with some impatience, "my fueling is against 
this plan. I have an instinct which tells me no good will 
come of it." 

"You women are invincible in this way," replied Ed- 
ward. "You are so sensible that there is no answering 
you, then so affectionate that one is glad to give way to 
you ; full of feelings, which one can not wound, and full 
of forebodings, which terrify one." 

"I am not superstitious," said Charlotte; "and I care 
nothing for these dim sensations, merely as such ; but in 
general they are the result of unconscious recollections 
pf happy or unhappy consequences, which we have expe- 
rienced as following on our own or others' actions. 
Nothing is of greater moment, in any state of things, 
than the intervention of a third person. I have seen 
friends, brothers and sisters, lovers, husbands and wives, 
whose relation to each other, through the accidental or 
intentional introduction of a third person, has been alto- 
gether changed whose whole moral condition has been 
inverted by it." 

"That may very well be," replied Edward, "with peo- 


Elective Affinities 

pie who live on without looking where they are going; 
but not, surely, with persons whom experience has taught 
to understand themselves." 

*- j di ii * mi ^i ii . - - 

"That understanding ourselves, my dearest husband," 
insisted Charlotte, "is no such certain weapon. It is very 
often a most dangerous one for the person who bears it. 
And out of all this, at least so much seems to arise, that 
we should not be in too great a hurry. Let me have a 
few days to think ; don't decide." 

"As the matter stands," returned Edward, "wait as 
many days as we will, we shall still be in too great a 
hurry. The arguments for and against are all before us ; 
all we want is the conclusion, and as things are, I think 
the best thing we can do is to draw lots." 

"I know," said Charlotte, "that in doubtful cases it is 
your way to leave' them to chance. To me, in such a 
serious matter, this seems almost a crime." 

"Then what am I to write to the Captain ?" cried Ed- 
ward ; "for write I must at once." 

"Write him a kind, sensible, sympathizing letter," an- 
swered Charlotte. 

"That is as good as none at all," replied Edward. 

"And there are many cases," answered she, "in which 
we are obliged, and in which it is the real kindness, rather 
to write nothing than not to write." 


Elective Affinities 


EDWARD was alone in his room. The repetition of the 
incidents of his life from Charlotte's lips; the represen- 
tation of their mutual situation, their mutual purposes, 
had worked him, sensitive as he was, into a very pleas- 
ant state of mind. While close to her while in her 
presence he had felt so happy, that he had thought out 
a warm, kind, but quiet and indefinite epistle which he 
would send to the Captain. When, however, he had set- 
tled himself at his writing-table, and taken up his friend's 
letter to read it over once more, the sad condition of this 
excellent man rose again vividly before him. The feel- 
ings which had been all day distressing him again awoke, 
and it appeared impossible to him to leave one whom he 
called his friend in such painful embarrassment. 

Edward was unaccustomed to deny himself anything. 
The only child, and consequently the spoiled child, of 
wealthy parents, who had persuaded him into a singular, 
but highly advantageous marriage with a lady far older 
than himself; and again by her petted and indulged in 
every possible way, she seeking to reward his kindness to 
her by the utmost liberality ; after her early death his own 
master, traveling independently of every pne, equal to all 


Elective Affinities 

contingencies and all changes, with desires never exces- 
sive, but multiple and various free-hearted, generous, 
brave, at times even noble what was there in the world 
to cross or thwart him ? 

Hitherto, everything had gone as he desired! Char- 
lotte had become his ; he had won her at last, with an ob- 
stinate, a romantic fidelity; and now he felt himself, for 
the first time, contradicted, crossed in his wishes, when 
those wishes were to invite to his home the friend of his 
youth just as he was longing, as it were, to throw open 
his whole heart to him. He felt annoyed, impatient ; he 
took up his pen again and again, and as often threw it 
down again, because he could not make up his mind what 
to write. Against his wife's wishes he would not go; 
against her expressed desire he could not. Ill at ease 
as he was, it would have been impossible for him, even 
if he had wished, to write a quiet, easy letter. The most 
natural thing to do was to put it off. In a few words, he 
begged his friend to forgive him for having left his letter 
unanswered ; that day he was unable to write circumstan- 
tially ; but shortly, he hoped to be able to tell him what he 
felt at greater length. 

The next day, as they were walking to the same spot, 
Charlotte took the opportunity of bringing back the con- 
versation to the subject, perhaps because she knew that 
there is no surer way of rooting out any plan or purpose 
than by often talking it over. 

It was what Edward was wishing. He expressed him- 
self in his own way, kindly and sweetly. Fpr although, 


Elective Affinities 

sensitive as he was, he flamed up readily although the 
vehemence with which he desired anything 1 made him 
pressing, and his obstinacy made him impatient his 
words were so softened by his wish to spare the feelings 
of those to whom he was speaking that it was impossible 
not to be charmed, even when one most disagreed, with 

This morning, he first contrived to bring Charlotte into 
the happiest humor, and then so disarmed her with the 
graceful turn which he gave to the conversation that she 
cried out at last : 

"You are determined that what I refused to the hus- 
band you will make me grant to the lover. At least, my 
dearest," she continued, "I will acknowledge that your 
wishes, and the warmth and sweetness with which you 
express them, have not left me untouched, have not left 
me unmoved. You drive me to make a confession ; till 
now I too have had a concealment from you; I am in 
exactly the same position with you, and I have hitherto 
been putting the same restraint on my inclination which 
I have been exhorting you to put on yours." 

"Glad am I to hear that," said Edward. "In the mar- 
ried state, a difference of opinion now and then, I see, 
is no bad thing; we learn something of one another by it." 

"You are to learn at present, then," said Charlotte, 
"that it is with me about Ottilie as it is with you about 
the Captain. The dear child is most uncomfortable at 
the school, and I am thoroughly uneasy about her. Lu- 
ciana, my daughter, born as she is for the world, is there 


Elective Affinities 

training hourly for the world ; languages, history, every- 
thing that is taught there, she acquires with so much ease 
that, as it were, she learns them off at sight. She has 
quick natural gifts, and an excellent memory; one may 
almost say she forgets everything, and in a moment calls 
it all back again. She distinguishes herself above every 
one at the school with the freedom of her carriage, the 
grace of her movement, and the elegance of her address, 
and with the inborn royalty of nature makes herself the 
queen of the little circle there. The superior of the estab- 
lishment regards her as a little divinity, who, under her 
hands, is shaping into excellence, and who will do her 
honor, gain her reputation, and bring her a large increase 
of pupils; the first pages of this good lady's letters, and 
her monthly notices of progress, are forever hymns about 
the excellence of such a child, which I have to translate 
into my own prose ; while her concluding sentences about 
Ottilie are nothing but excuse after excuse attempts at 
explaining how it can be that a girl in other respects 
growing up so lovely seems coming to nothing, and shows 
neither capacity nor accomplishment This, and the little 
she has to say besides, is no riddle to me, because I can 
see in this dear child the same character as that of her 
mother, who was my own dearest friend; who grew up 
with myself, and whose daughter, I am certain, if I had 
the care of her education, would form into an exquisite 

"This, however, Has not fallen in with our plan, and as 
one ought not to be picking and pulling, or forever in- 


Elective Affinities 

troducing new elements among the conditions of our life, 
I think it better to bear, and to conquer as I can, even the 
unpleasant impression that my daughter, who knows very 
well that poor Ottilie is entirely dependent upon us, does 
not refrain from flourishing her own successes in her face, 
and so, to a certain extent, destroys the little good which 
we have done for her. Who are well trained enough 
never to wound others by a parade of their own advan- 
tages? and who stands so high as not at times to suffer 
under such a slight? In trials like these, Ottilie's char- 
acter is growing in strength, but since I have clearly 
known the pain fulness of her situation, I have been think- 
ing over all possible ways to make some other arrange- 
ment. Every hour I am expecting an answer to my own 
last letter, and then I do not mean to hesitate any more. 
So, my dear Edward, it is with me. We have both, you 
see, the same sorrows to bear, touching both our hearts 
in the same point. Let us bear them together, since we 
neither of us can press our own against the other." 

"We are strange creatures," said Edward, smiling. 
"If we can only put out of sight anything which troubles 
us, we fancy at once we have got rid of it. We can give 
up much in the large and general ; but to make sacrifices 
in little things is a demand to which we are rarely equal. 
So it was with my mother as long as I lived with her, 
while a boy and a young man, she could not bear to let 
me be a moment out of her sight. If I was out later than 
usual in my ride, some misfortune must have happened to 
me. If I got wet through in a shower, a fever was in- 


!(A) 2 VOL. 2 

Elective Affinities 

evitable. I traveled; I was absent from her altogether; 
and, at once, I scarcely seemed to belong to her. If we 
look at it closer," he continued, "we are both acting very 
foolishly, very culpably. Two very noble natures, both 
of which have the closest claims on our affection, we are 
leaving exposed to pain and distress, merely to avoid ex- 
posing ourselves to a chance of danger. If this is not to 
be called selfish, what is ? You take Ottilie. Let me have 
the Captain ; and, for a short period, at least, let the trial 
be made." 

"We might venture it," said Charlotte, thoughtfully, 
"if the danger were only to ourselves. But do you think 
it prudent to bring Ottilie and the Captain into a situa- 
tion where they must necessarily be so closely intimate; 
the Captain, a man no older than yourself, of an age (I 
am not saying this to flatter you) when a man becomes 
first capable of love and first deserving of it, and a girl of 
Ottilie's attractiveness ?" 

"I can not conceive how you can rate Ottilie so high," 
replied Edward. "I can only explain it to myself by 
supposing her to have inherited your affection for her 
mother. Pretty she is, no doubt. I remember the Cap- 
tain observing it to me, when we came back last year, 
and met her at your aunt's. Attractive she is she has 
particularly pretty eyes ; but I do not know that she made 
the slightest impression upon me." 

"That was quite proper in you," said Charlotte, "see- 
ing that I was there ; and, although she is much younger 
than I, the presence of your old friend had so many 


Elective Affinities 

charms for you that you overlooked the promise of the 
opening beauty. It is one of your ways ; and that is one 
reason why it is so pleasant to live with you." 

Charlotte, openly as she appeared to be speaking, was 
keeping back something, nevertheless ; which was .that at 
the time when Edward came first back from abroad, she 
had purposely thrown Ottilie in his way, to secure, if pos- 
sible, so desirable a match for her protegee. For of her- 
self, at that time, in connection with Edward, she never 
thought at all. The Captain, also, had a hint given to 
him to draw Edward's attention to her; but the latter, 
who was clinging determinately to his early affection for 
Charlotte, looked neither right nor left, and was only 
happy in the feeling that it was at last within his power 
to obtain for himself the one happiness which he so ear- 
nestly desired; and which a series of incidents had ap- 
peared to have placed forever beyond his reach. 

They were on the point of descending the new grounds, 
in order to return to the castle, when a servant came 
hastily to meet them, and, with a laugh on his face, 
called up from below, "Will your grace be pleased to 
come quickly to the castle? The Herr Mittler has just 
galloped into the court. He shouted to us to go all of 
us in search of you, and we were to ask whether there 
was need, 'whether there is need,' he cried after us, 'do 
you hear? but be quick, be quick.' ' 

"The odd fellow," exclaimed Edward. "But has he 
not come at the right time, Charlotte ? Tell him there is 
need grievous need. He must alight. See his horse 


Elective Affinities 

taken care of. Take him into the saloon, and let him 
have some luncheon. We shall be with him immedi- 

"Let us take the nearest way," he said to his wife, and 
struck into the path across the churchyard, which he usu- 
ally avoided. He was not a little surprised to find here, 
too, traces of Charlotte's delicate hand. Sparing, as far 
as possible, the old monuments, she had contrived to level 
it, and lay it carefully out, so as to make it appear a 
pleasant spot on which the eye and the imagination could 
equally repose with pleasure. The oldest stones had each 
their special honor assigned them. They were ranged 
according to their dates along the wall, either leaning 
against it, or let into it, or however it could be contrived ; 
and the string-course of the church was thus variously 

Edward was singularly affected as he came in upon it 
through the little wicket; he pressed Charlotte's hand, 
and tears started into his eyes. But these were very soon 
put to flight by the appearance of their singular visitor. 
This gentleman had declined sitting down in the castle; 
he had ridden straight through the village to the church- 
yard gate ; and then, halting, he called out to his friends, 
"Are you not making a fool of me ? Is there need, really ? 
If there is, I can stay till midday. But don't keep me. I 
have a great deal to do before night." 

"Since you have taken the trouble to come so far," 
cried Edward to him, in answer, "you had better come 
through the gate. We meet at a solemn spot. Come 


Elective Affinities 

and see the variety which Charlotte has thrown over its 

"Inside there," called out the rider, "come I neither on 
horseback, nor in carriage, nor on foot. These here rest 
in peace: with them I have nothing to do. One day I 
shall be carried in feet foremost. I must bear that as I 
can. Is it serious, I want to know ?" 

"Indeed it is," cried Charlotte, "right serious. For the 
first time in our married lives, we are in a strait and 
difficulty, from which we do not know how to extricate 

"You do not look as if it were so," answered he. "But 
I will believe you. If you are deceiving me, for the future 
you shall help yourselves. Follow me quickly, my horse 
will be none the worse for a rest." 

The three speedily found themselves in the saloon to- 
gether. Luncheon was brought in, and Mittler told them 
what that day he had done, and was going to do. This 
eccentric person had in early life been a clergyman, and 
had distinguished himself in his office by the never-resting 
activity with which he contrived to make up and put an 
end to quarrels; quarrels in families, and quarrels be- 
tween neighbors ; first among the individuals immediately 
about him, and afterward among whole congregations, 
and among the country gentlemen round. While he was 
in the ministry, no married couple were allowed to sep- 
arate ; and the district courts were untroubled with either 
cause or process. A knowledge of the law, he was well 
aware, was necessary to him. He gave himself with all 


Elective Affinities 

his might to the study of it, and very soon felt himself 
a match for the best trained advocate. His circle of ac- 
tivity extended wonderfully, and people were on the point 
of inducing him to move to the Residence, where he would 
find opportunities of exercising in the higher circles what 
he had begun in the lowest, when he won a considerable 
sum of money in a lottery. With this, he bought himself 
a small property. He let the ground to a tenant, and 
made it the centre of his operations, with the fixed deter- 
mination, or rather in accordance with his old customs 
and inclinations, never to enter a house when there was 
no dispute to make up, and no help to be given. People 
who were superstitious about names, and about what 
they imported, maintained that it was his being called 
Mittler which drove him to take upon himself this strange 

Luncheon was laid on the table, and the stranger then 
solemnly pressed his host not to wait any longer with the 
disclosure which he had to make. Immediately after re- 
freshing himself he would be obliged to leave them. 

Husband and wife made a circumstantial confession; 
but scarcely had he caught the substance of the matter, 
when he started angrily up from the table, rushed out of 
the saloon, and ordered his horse to be saddled instantly. 

"Either you do not know me, you do not understand 
me," he cried, "or you are sorely mischievous. Do you 
call this a quarrel ? Is there any want of help here ? Do 
you suppose that I am in the world to give advice? Of all 
occupations which man can pursue that is the most fool- 


Elective Affinities 

ish. Every man must be his own counselor, and do what 
he can not let alone. If all go well, let him be happy, let 
him enjoy his wisdom and his fortune; if it go ill, I am at 
hand to do what I can for him. The man who desires to 
be rid of an evil knows what he wants ; but the man who 
desires something better than he has got is stone blind. 
Yes, yes, laugh as you will, he is playing blindman's-buff ; 
perhaps he gets hold of something, but the question is 
what he has got hold of. Do as you will, it is all one. 
Invite your friends to you, or let them be, it is all the 
same. The most prudent plans I have seen miscarry, and 
the most foolish succeed. Don't split your brains about 
it; and if, one way or the other, evil comes of what you 
settle, don't fret; send for me, and you shall be helped. 
Till which time, I am your humble servant." 

So saying, he sprang on his horse, without waiting the 
arrival of the coffee. 

"Here you see," said Charlotte, "the small service a 
third person can be, when things are off their balance 
between two persons closely connected; we are left, if 
possible, more confused and more uncertain than we 

They would both, probably, have continued hesitating 
some time longer, had not a letter arrived from the Cap- 
tain, in reply to Edward's last. He had made up his 
mind to accept one of the situations which had been 
offered him, although it was not in the least up to his 
mark. He was to share the ennui of certain wealthy per- 
sons of rank, who depended on his ability to dissipate it. 


Elective Affinities 

Edward's keen glance saw into the whole thing, and 
he pictured it out in just, sharp lines. 

"Can we endure to think of our friend in such a posi- 
tion?" he cried; "you can not be so cruel, Charlotte." 

"That strange Mittler is right after all," replied Char- 
lotte ; "all such undertakings are ventures ; what will come 
of them it is impossible to foresee. New elements intro- 
duced among us may be fruitful in fortune or in misfor- 
tune, without our having to take credit to ourselves for 
one or the other. I do not feel myself firm enough to 
oppose you further. Let us make the experiment; only 
one thing I will entreat of you that it be only for a 
short time. You must allow me to exert myself more 
than ever, to use all my influence among all my con- 
nections, to find him some position which will satisfy 
him in his own way." 

Edward poured out the warmest expressions of grati- 
,tude. He hastened, with a light, happy heart, to write 
off his proposals to his friend. Charlotte, in a postscript, 
was to signify her approbation with her own hand, and 
unite her own kind entreaties with his. She wrote, with 
a rapid pen, pleasantly and affectionately, but yet with a 
sort of haste which was not usual with her; and, most 
unlike herself, she disfigured the paper at last with a blot 
of ink, which put her out of temper, and which she only 
made worse with her attempts to wipe it away. 

Edward laughed at her about it, and, as there was still 
room, added a second postscript, that his friend was to 
see from this symptom the impatience with which he was 


Elective Affinities 

expected, and measure the speed at which he came to 
them by the haste in which the letter was written. 

The messenger was gone; and Edward thought he 
could not give a more convincing evidence of his grati- 
tude than by insisting again and again that Charlotte 
should at once send for Ottilie from the school. She 
said she would think about it; and, for that evening, in- 
duced Edward to join with her in the enjoyment of a 
little music. Charlotte played exceedingly well on the , 
piano, Edward not quite so well on the flute. He had 
taken a great deal of pains with it at times; but he was 
without the patience, without the perseverance, which are 
requisite for the completely successful cultivation of such 
a talent ; consequently, his part was done unequally, some 
pieces well, only perhaps too quickly while with others 
he hesitated, not being quite familiar with them ; so that, 
for any one else, it would have been difficult to have gone 
through a duet with him. But Charlotte knew how to 
manage it. She held in, or let herself be run away with, 
and fulfilled in this way the double part of a skilful con- 
ductor and a prudent housewife, who are able always to 
keep right on the whole, although particular passages 
will now and then fall out of order. 


Elective Affinities 


THE Captain came, having previously written a most 
sensible letter, which had entirely quieted Charlotte's ap- 
prehensions. So much clearness about himself, so just 
an understanding of his own position and the position of 
his friends, promised everything which was best and 

The conversation of the first few hours, as is generally 
the case with friends who have not met for a long time, 
was eager, lively, almost exhausting. Toward evening, 
Charlotte proposed a walk to the new grounds. The 
Captain was delighted with the spot, and observed every 
beauty which had been first brought into sight and made 
enjoyable by the new walks. He had a practised eye, 
and at the same time one easily satisfied ; and although he 
knew very well what was really valuable, he never, as 
so many persons do, made people who were showing him 
things of their own uncomfortable, by requiring more 
than the circumstances admitted of, or by mentioning 
anything more perfect, which he remembered having seen 

When they arrived at the summer-house, they found 
it dressed out for a holiday, only, indeed, with artificial 


Elective Affinities 

flowers and evergreens, but with some pretty bunches of 
natural corn-ears among them, and other field and garden 
fruit, so as to do credit to the taste which had arranged 

"Although my husband does not like in general to have 
his birthday or christening-day kept," Charlotte said, "he 
will not object to-day to these few ornaments being ex- 
pended on a treble festival." 

"Treble?" cried Edward. 

"Yes, indeed," she replied. "Our friend's arrival here 
we are bound to keep as a festival ; and have you never 
thought, either of you, that this is the day on which you 
were both christened? Are you not both named Otto?" 

The two friends shook hands across the little table. 

"You bring back to my mind," Edward said, "this little 
link of our boyish affection. As children, we were both 
called so; but when we came to be at school together, it 
was the cause of much confusion, and I readily made over 
to him all my right to the pretty laconic name." 

"Wherein you were not altogether so very high- 
minded," said the Captain; "for I well remember that 
the name of Edward had then begun to please you better, 
from its attractive sound when spoken by certain pretty 

They were now sitting all three round the same table 
where Charlotte had spoken so vehemently against their 
guest's coming to them. Edward, happy as he was, did 
not wish to remind his wife of that time; but he could 
not help saying : 


Elective Affinities 

"There is good room here for one more person." 

At this moment the notes of a bugle were heard across 
from the castle. Full of happy thoughts and feelings as 
the friends all were together, the sound fell in among 
them with a strong force of answering harmony. They 
listened silently, each for the moment withdrawing into 
himself, and feeling doubly happy in the fair circle of 
which he formed a part. The pause was first broken by 
Edward, who started up and walked out in front of the 

"Our friend must not think," he said to Charlotte, 
"that this narrow little valley forms the whole of our 
domain and possessions. Let us take him up to the top 
of the hill, where he can see further and breathe more 

"For this once, then," answered Charlotte, "we must 
climb up the old footpath, which is not too easy. By the 
next time, I hope my walks and steps will have been car- 
ried right up." 

And so, among rocks, and shrubs, and bushes, they 
made their way to the summit, where they found them- 
v / selves, not on a level flat, but on a sloping grassy terrace, 
running along the ridge of the hill. The village, with the 
castle behind it, was out of sight. At the bottom of the 
valley, sheets of water were seen spreading out right and 
left, with wooded hills rising immediately from their 
opposite margin, and, at the end of the upper water, a 
wall of sharp, precipitous rocks directly overhanging it, 
their huge forms reflected in its level surface. In the 


Elective Affinities 

hollow of the ravine, where a considerable brook ran 
into the lake, lay a mill, half hidden among the trees, a 
sweetly retired spot, most beautifully surrounded; and 
through the entire semicircle over which the view ex- 
tended, ran an endless variety of hills and valleys, copse 
and forest, the early green of which promised the near 
approach of a luxuriant clothing of foliage. In many 
places particular groups of trees caught the eye ; and espe- 
cially a cluster of planes and poplars directly at the spec- 
tator's feet, close to the edge of the centre lake. They 
were at their full growth, and they stood there, spread- 
ing out their boughs all around them, in fresh and lux- 
uriant strength. 

To these Edward called his friend's attention. 

"I myself planted them," he cried, "when I was a boy. 
They were small trees which I rescued when my father 
was laying out the new part of the great castle garden, 
and in the middle of one summer had rooted them out. 
This year you will no doubt see them show their grati- 
tude in a fresh set of shoots." 

They returned to the castle in high spirits, and mutu- 
ally pleased with each other. To the guest was allotted 
an agreeable and roomy set of apartments in the right 
wing of the castle ; and here he rapidly got his books and 
papers and instruments in order, to go on with his usual 
occupation. But Edward, for the first few days, gave him 
no rest. He took him about everywhere, now on foot, 
now on horseback, making him acquainted with the coun- 
try and with the estate ; and he embraced the opportunity 


Elective Affinities 

of imparting to him the wishes which he had been long 
entertaining, of getting at some better acquaintance with 
it, and learning to manage it more profitably. 

"The first thing we have to do," said the Captain, "is 
to make a magnetic survey of the property. That is a 
pleasant and easy matter; and if it does not admit of 
entire exactness, it will be always useful, and will do, at 
any rate, for an agreeable beginning. It can be made, 
too, without any great staff of assistants, and one can be 
sure of getting it completed. If by and by you come to 
require anything more exact, it will be easy then to find 
some plan to have it made." 

The Captain was exceedingly skilful at work of this 
kind. He had brought with him whatever instruments 
he required, and commenced immediately. Edward pro- 
vided him with a number of foresters and peasants, who, 
with his instruction, were able to render him all necessary 
assistance. The weather was favorable. The evenings and 
the early mornings were devoted to the designing and 
drawing, and in a short time it was all filled in and col- 
ored. Edward saw his possessions grow out like a new 
creation upon the paper ; and it seemed as if now for the 
first time he knew what they were, as if they now first 
were properly his own. 

Thus there came occasion to speak of the park, and of 
the ways of laying it out; a far better disposition of 
things being made possible after a survey of this kind 
than could be arrived at by experimenting on nature, 
on partial and accidental impressions. 


Elective Affinities 

"We must make my wife understand this," said Ed- 

"We must do nothing of the kind," replied the Captain, 
who did not like bringing his own notions in collision 
with those of others. He had learned by experience that 
the motives and purposes by which men are influenced 
are far too various to be made to coalesce upon a single 
point, even on the most solid representations. "We must 
not do it," he cried; "she will be only confused. With 
her, as with all people who employ themselves on such 
matters merely as amateurs, the important thing is, rather 
that she shall do something than that something shall be 
done. Such persons feel their way with nature. They 
have fancies for this plan or that ; they do not venture on 
removing obstacles. They are not bold enough to make 
a sacrifice. They do not know beforehand in what their 
work is to result. They try an experiment it succeeds 
it fails; they alter it; they alter, perhaps, what they 
ought to leave alone, and leave what they ought to alter ; 
and so, at last, there always remains but a patchwork, 
which pleases and amuses, but never satisfies." 

"Acknowledge candidly," said Edward, "that you do 
not like this new work of hers." 

"The idea is excellent," he replied; "if the execution 
were equal to it, there would be no fault to find. But she 
has tormented herself to find her way up that rock; and 
she now torments every one, if you must have it, that she 
takes up after her. You can not walk together you can 
not walk behind one another with any freedom. Every 


Elective Affinities 

moment your step is interrupted one way or another. 
There is no end to the mistakes which she has made." 

"Would it have been easy to have done it otherwise ?" 
asked Edward. 

"Perfectly," replied the Captain. "She had only to 
break away a corner of the rock, which is now but an 
unsightly object, made up as it is of little pieces, and she 
would at once have a sweep for her walk and stone in 
abundance for the rough masonry work, to widen it in the 
bad places, and make it smooth. But this I tell you in 
strictest confidence. Her it would only confuse and an- 
noy. What is done must remain as it is. If any more 
money and labor is to be spent there, there is abundance 
to do above the summer-house on the hill, which we can 
settle our own way." 

If the two friends found in their occupation abundance 
of present employment, there was no lack either of enter- 
taining reminiscences of early times, in which Charlotte 
took her part as well. They determined, moreover, that 
as soon as their immediate labors were finished, they 
would go to work upon the journal, and in this way, too, 
reproduce the past. 

For the rest, when Edward and Charlotte were alone, 
there were fewer matters of private interest between them 
than formerly. This was especially the case since the 
fault-finding about the grounds, which Edward thought 
so just, and which he felt to the quick. He held his 
tongue about what the Captain had said for a long time; 
but at last, when he saw his wife again preparing to go 


Elective Affinities 

to work above the summer-house, with her paths and 
steps, he could not contain himself any longer, but, after 
a few circumlocutions, came out with his new views. 

Charlotte was thoroughly disturbed. She was sensible 
enough to perceive at once that they were right, but there 
was the difficulty with what was already done and what 
was made was made. She had liked it; even what was 
wrong had become dear to her in its details. She fought 
against her convictions; she defended her little creations; 
she railed at men who were forever going to the broad 
and the great. They could not let a pastime, they could 
not let an amusement alone, she said, but they must go 
and make a work out of it, never thinking of the expense 
which their larger plans involved. She was provoked, an- 
noyed, and angry. Her old plans she could not give up, 
the new she would not quite throw from her ; but, divided 
as she was, for the present she put a stop to the work, and 
gave herself time to think the thing over, and let it ripen 
by itself. 

At the same time that she lost this source of active 
amusement, the others were more and more together over 
their own business. They took to occupying themselves, 
moreover, with the flower-garden and the hot-houses ; and 
as they rilled up the intervals with the ordinary gentle- 
men's amusements, hunting, riding, buying, selling, break- 
ing horses, and such matters, she was every day left more 
and more to herself. She devoted herself more assidu- 
ously than ever to her correspondence on account of the 
Captain; and yet she had many lonely hours; so that the 

Elective Affinities 

information which she now received from tKe school be- 
came of more agreeable interest. 

To a long-drawn letter of the superior of the establish- 
ment, filled with the usual expressions of delight at her 
daughter's progress, a brief postscript was attached, with 
a second from the hand of a gentleman in employment 
there as an assistant, both of which we here communicate. 


"Of Ottilie, I can only repeat to your ladyship what I 
have already stated in my former letters. I do not know 
how to find fault with her, yet I can not say that I am 
satisfied. She is always unassuming, always ready to 
oblige others; but it is not pleasing to see her so timid, 
so almost servile. 

"Your ladyship lately sent her some money, with sev- 
eral little matters for her wardrobe. The money she has 
never touched, the dresses lay unworn in their place. 
She keeps her things very nice and very clean ; but this is 
all she seems to care about. Again, I can not praise her 
excessive abstemiousness in eating and drinking. There 
is no extravagance at our table, but there is nothing that 
I like better than to see the children eat enough of good, 
wholesome food. What is carefully provided and set be- 
fore them ought to be taken; and to this I never can 
succeed in bringing Ottilie. She is always making her- 
self some occupation or other, always finding something 
which she must do, something which the servants have 
neglected, to escape the second course or the dessert ; and 


Elective Affinities 

now it has to be considered (which I can not help con- 
necting with all this) that she frequently suffers, I have 
lately learned, from pain in the left side of her head. It is 
only at times, but it is distressing, and may be of impor- 
tance. So much upon this otherwise sweet and lovely 


"Our excellent superior commonly permits me to read 
the letters in which she communicates her observations 
upon her pupils to their parents and friends. Such of 
them as are addressed to your ladyship I ever read with 
twofold attention and pleasure. We have to congratu- 
late you upon a daughter who unites in herself every bril- 
liant quality with which people distinguish themselves in 
the world; and I at least think you no less fortunate in 
having had bestowed upon you, in your stepdaughter, a 
child who has been born for the good and happiness of 
others, and assuredly also for her own. Ottilie is almost 
our only pupil about whom there is a difference of opinion 
between myself and our reverend superior. I do not com- 
plain of the very natural desire in that good lady to see 
outward and definite fruits arising from her labors. But 
there are also fruits which are not outward, which are 
of the true germinal sort, and which develop themselves 
sooner or later in a beautiful life. And this I am certain 
is the case with your protegee. So long as she has been 
under my care, I have watched her moving with an even 
step, slowly, steadily forward never back. As with a 


Elective Affinities 

child it is necessary to begin everything at the beginning, 
so it is with her. She can comprehend nothing whicH 
does not follow from what precedes it; let a thing be as 
simple and easy as possible, she can make nothing of it 
if it is not in a recognizable connection ; but find the inter- 
mediate links, and make them clear to her, and then noth- 
ing is too difficult for her. 

"Progressing with such slow steps, she remains behind 
her companions, who, with capacities of quite a different 
kind, hurry on and on, learn everything readily, con- 
nected or unconnected, recollect it with ease, and apply it 
with correctness. And again, some of the lessons here 
are given by excellent, but somewhat hasty and impa- 
tient teachers, who pass from result to result, cutting short 
the process by which they are arrived at; and these are 
not of the slightest service to her ; she learns nothing from 
them. There is a complaint of her handwriting. They 
say she will not, or can not, understand how to form her 
letters. I have examined closely into this. It is true she 
writes slowly, stiffly, if you like ; but the hand is neither 
timid nor without character. The French language is 
not my department, but I have taught her something of 
it, in the step-by-step fashion; and this she understands 
easily. Indeed, it is singular that she knows a great deal, 
and knows it well, too ; and yet when she is asked a ques- 
tion, it seems as if she knew nothing. 

"To conclude generally, I should say she learns noth- 
ing like a person who is being educated, but she learns 
like one who is to educate not like a pupil, but like a 


Elective Affinities 

future teacher. Your ladyship may think it strange that 
I, as an educator and a teacher, can find no higher praise 
to give to any one than by a comparison with myself. I 
may leave it to your own good sense, to your deep knowl- 
edge of the world and of mankind, to make the best of 
my most inadequate, but well-intended expressions. You 
may satisfy yourself that you have much happiness to 
promise yourself from this child. I commend myself to 
your ladyship, and I beseech you to permit me to write 
to you again as soon as I see reason to believe that I have 
anything important or agreeable to communicate." 

This letter gave Charlotte great pleasure. The con- 
tents of it coincided very closely with the notions which 
she had herself conceived of Ottilie. At the same time, 
she could not help smiling at the excessive interest of the 
assistant, which seemed greater than the insight into a 
pupil's excellence usually calls forth. In her quiet, un- 
prejudiced way of looking at things, this relation, among 
others, she was contented to permit to lie before her as a 
possibility; she could value the interest of so sensible a 
man in Ottilie, having learned, among the lessons of her 
life, to see how highly true regard is to be prized, in 
a world where indifference or dislike are the common 
natural residents. 


Elective Affinities 

THE topographical chart of the property and its envi- 
rons was completed. It was executed on a considerable 
scale ; the character of the particular localities was made 
intelligible by various colors; and by means of a trigo- 
nometrical survey, the Captain had been able to arrive at 
a very fair exactness of measurement. He had been 
rapid in his work. There was scarcely ever any one who 
could do with less sleep than this most laborious man; 
and, as his day was always devoted to an immediate pur- 
pose, every evening something had been done. 

"Let us now," he said to his friend, "go on to what 
remains for us, to the statistics of the estate. We shall 
have a good deal of work to get through at the beginning, 
and afterward we shall come to the farm estimates, and 
much else which will naturally arise out of them. Only 
we must have one thing distinctly settled and adhered to. 
Everything which is properly business we must keep care- 
fully separate from life. Business requires earnestness 
and method; life must have a freer handling. Business 
demands the utmost stringency and sequence ; in life, in- 
consecutiveness is frequently necessary, indeed, is charm- 
ing and graceful. If you are firm in the first, you can 


Elective Affinities 

afford yourself more liberty in the second; while if you 
mix them, you will find the free interfering with and 
breaking in upon the fixed." 

In these sentiments Edward felt a slight reflection upon 
himself. Though not naturally disorderly, he could never 
bring himself to arrange his papers in their proper places. 
What he had to do in connection with others was not kept 
separate from what only depended on himself. Business 
got mixed up with amusement, and serious work with 
recreation. Now, however, it was easy for him, with the 
help of a friend, who would take the trouble upon him- 
self ; and a second "I" worked out the separation, to which 
the single "I" was always unequal. 

In the Captain's wing, they contrived a depositary for 
what concerned the present, and an archive for the past. 
Here they brought all the documents, papers, and notes 
from their various hiding-places, rooms, drawers, and 
boxes, with the utmost speed. Harmony and order were 
introduced into the wilderness, and the different packets 
were marked and registered in their several pigeon-holes. 
They found all they wanted in greater completeness even 
than they had expected; and here an old clerk was found 
of no slight service, who for the whole day and part of 
the night never left his desk, and with whom, till then, 
Edward had been always dissatisfied. 

"I should not know him again," he said to his friend, 
"the man is so handy and useful." 

"That," replied the Captain, "is because we give him 
nothing fresh to do till he has finished, at his convenience, 


Elective Affinities 

what he has already; and so, as you perceive, he gets 
through a geat deal. If you disturb him, he becomes 
useless at once." 

Spending their days together in this way, in the even- 
ings they never neglected their regular visits to Char- 
lotte. If there was no party from the neighborhood, as 
was often the case, they read and talked, principally on 
subjects connected with the improvement of the condition 
of social life. 

Charlotte, always accustomed to make the most of op- 
portunities, not only saw her husband pleased, but found 
personal advantages for herself. Various domestic ar- 
rangements which she had long wished to make, but 
which she did not know exactly how to set about, were 
managed for her through the contrivance of the Captain. 
Her domestic medicine-chest, hitherto but poorly fur- 
nished, was enlarged and enriched, and Charlotte herself, 
with the help of good books and personal instruction, was 
put in the way of being able to exercise her disposition to 
be of practical assistance more frequently and more effi- 
ciently than before. 

In providing against accidents, which, though common, 
yet only too often find us unprepared, they thought it es- 
pecially necessary to have at hand whatever is required 
for the recovery of drowning men accidents of this kind, 
from the number of canals, reservoirs, and waterworks 
in the neighborhood, being of frequent occurrence. This 
department the Captain took expressly into his own 
hands; and the observation escaped Edward that a case 


Elective Affinities 

of this kind had made a very singular epoch in the life of 
his friend. The latter made no reply, but seemed to be 
trying to escape from a painful recollection. Edward im- 
mediately stopped; and Charlotte, who, as well as he, 
had a general knowledge of the story, took no notice of 
the expression. 

"These preparations are all exceedingly valuable/' said 
the Captain one evening. "Now, however, we have not 
got the one thing which is most essential a sensible man 
who understands how to manage it all. I know an army 
surgeon, whom I could exactly recommend for the place. 
You might get him at this moment, on easy terms. He 
is highly distinguished in his profession, and has fre- 
quently done more for me, in the treatment even of vio- 
lent inward disorders, than celebrated physicians. Help 
upon the spot is the thing you often most want in the 

He was written for at once; and Edward and Char- 
lotte were rejoiced to have found so good and necessary 
an object on which to expend so much of the money which 
they set apart for such accidental demands upon them. 

Thus Charlotte, too, found means of making use, for 
her purposes, of the Captain's knowledge and practical 
skill; and she began to be quite reconciled to his pres- 
ence, and to feel easy about any consequences which might 
ensue. She commonly prepared questions to ask him; 
among other things, it was one of her anxieties to provide 
against whatever was prejudicial to health and comfort, 
against poisons and such like. The lead-glazing on the 


(A) 3 VOL. 2 

Elective Affinities 

china, the verdigris which formed about her copper and 
bronze vessels, etc., had long been a trouble to her. She 
got him to tell her about these, and, naturally, they often 
had to fall back on the first elements .of medicine and 

An accidental but welcome occasion for entertainment 
of this kind was given by an inclination of Edward to 
read aloud. He had a particularly clear, deep voice, and 
earlier in life had earned himself a pleasant reputation for 
his feeling and lively recitations of works of poetry and 
oratory. At this time he was occupied with other sub- 
jects, and the books which, for some time past, he had 
been reading, were either chemical, or on some other 
branch of natural or technical science. 

One of his especial peculiarities which, by the by, 
he very likely shares with a number of his fellow-crea- 
tures was that he could not bear to have any one look- 
ing over him when he was reading. In early life, when 
he used to read poems, plays, or stories, this had been the 
natural consequence of the desire which the reader feels, 
like the poet, or the actor, or the story-teller, to make 
surprises, to pause, to excite expectation; arjd this sort 
of effect was naturally defeated when a third person's 
eyes could run on before him, and see what was coming. 
On such occasions, therefore, he was accustomed to place 
himself in such a position that no one could get behind 
him. With a party of only three this was unnecessary; 
and as with the present subject there was no opportu- 
nity for exciting feelings or giving the imagination a 


Elective Affinities 

surprise, he did not take any particular pains to protect 

One evening he had placed himself carelessly, and Char- 
lotte happened by accident to cast her eyes upon the page. 
His old impatience was aroused; he turned to her and 
said, almost unkindly: 

"I do wish, once for all, you would leave off doing a 
thing so out of taste and so disagreeable. When I read 
aloud to a person is it not the same as if I was telling 
him something by word of mouth? The written, the 
printed word, is in the place of my own thoughts, of my 
own heart. If a window were broken into my brain or 
into my heart, and if the man to whom I am counting 
out my thoughts, or delivering my sentiments, one by 
one, knew already beforehand exactly what was to come 
out of me, should I take the trouble to put them into 
words? When anybody looks over my book, I always 
feel as if I were being torn in two." 

Charlotte's tact, in whatever circle she might be, large 
or small, was remarkable, and she was able to set aside 
disagreeable or excited expressions without appearing to 
notice them. When a conversation grew tedious, she 
knew how to interrupt it; when it halted, she could set 
it going. And this time her good gift did not forsake her. 

"I am sure you will forgive me my fault," she said, 

"when I tell you what it was this moment which came 

over me. I heard you reading something about Affinities, 

and I thought directly of some relations of mine, two of 

j whom are just now occupying me a great deal. Then 

Elective Affinities 

my attention went back to the book. I found it was not 
about living things at all, and I looked over to get the 
thread of it right again." 

"It was the comparison which led you wrong and con- 
fused you," said Edward. "The subject is nothing but 
i earths and minerals. But man is a true Narcissus ; he de- 
lights to see his own image everywhere; and he spreads 
1 himself underneath the universe, like the amalgam be- 
I hind the glass." 

"Quite true," continued the Captain. "That is the 
way in which he treats everything external to himself. 
His wisdom and his folly, his will and his caprice, he 
attributes alike to the animal, the plant, the elements, and 
the gods." 

"Would you," said Charlotte, "if it is not taking you 
away too much from the immediate subject, tell me briefly 
what is meant here by Affinities ?" 

"I shall be very glad indeed," replied the Captain, to 
whom Charlotte had addressed herself. "That is, I will 
tell you as well as I can. My ideas on the subject date 
ten years back; whether the scientific world continues to 
think the same about it, I can not tell." 

"It is most disagreeable," cried Edward, "that one can 
not nowadays learn a thing once for all, and have done 
with it. Our forefathers could keep to what they were 
taught when they were young; but we have, every five 
years, to make revolutions with them, if we do not wish 
to drop altogether out of fashion." 

"We women need not be so particular," said Char- 


Elective Affinities 

lotte; "and, to speak the truth, I only want to know the 
meaning of the word. There is nothing 1 more ridiculous 
in society than to misuse a strange technical word ; and I 
only wish you to tell me in what sense the expression 
is made use of in connection with these things. What its 
scientific application is I am quite contented to leave to 
the learned; who, by the by, as far as I have been 
able to observe, do not find it easy to agree among 

"Whereabouts shall we begin," said Edward, after a 
pause, to the Captain, "to come most quickly to the 

The latter, after thinking a little while, replied shortly : 

"You must let me make what will seem a wide sweep ; 
we shall be on our subject almost immediately." 

Charlotte settled her work at her side, promising the 
fullest attention. 

The Captain began : 

"In all natural objects with which we are acquainted, 
we observe immediately that they have a certain relation 
to themselves. It may sound ridiculous to be asserting 
what is obvious to every one ; but it is only by coming to 
a clear understanding together about what we know that 
we can advance to what we do not know." 

"I think," interrupted Edward, "we can make the thing 
more clear to her, and to ourselves, with examples ; con- 
ceive water, or oil, or quicksilver; among these you will 
see a certain oneness, a certain connection of their parts ; 
and this oneness is never lost, except through force or 


Elective Affinities 

some other determining cause. Let the cause cease to 
operate, and at once the parts unite again." 

"Unquestionably," said Charlotte, "that is plain ; rain- 
drops readily unite and form streams ; and when we were 
children, it was our delight to play with quicksilver, and 
wonder at the little globules splitting and parting and run- 
ning into one another." 

"And here," said the Captain, "let me just cursorily 
mention one remarkable thing. I mean that the full, 
complete correlation of parts which the fluid state makes 
possible shows itself distinctly and universally in the glob- 
ular form. The falling water-drop is round ; you yourself 
spoke of the globules of quicksilver ; and a drop of melted 
lead let fall, if it has time to harden before it reaches 
the ground, is found at the bottom in the shape of a ball." 

"Let me try and see," said Charlotte, "whether I can 
understand where you are bringing me. As everything 
has a reference to itself, so it must have some relation to 

"And that," interrupted Edward, "will be different ac- 
cording to the natural differences of the things them- 
selves. Sometimes they will meet like friends and old 
acquaintances ; they will come rapidly together, and unite 
without either having to alter itself at all as wine mixes 
with water. Others, again, will remain as strangers side 
by side, and no amount of mechanical mixing or forcing 
will succeed in combining them. Oil and water may be 
shaken up together, and the next moment they are sep- 
arate again, each by itself." 


Elective Affinities 

"One can almost fancy," said Charlotte, "that in these 
simple forms one sees people that one is acquainted with ; 
one has met with just such things in the societies among 
which one has lived; and the strangest likenesses of all 
with these soulless creatures are in the masses in which 
men stand divided one against the other in their classes 
and professions ; the nobility and the third estate, for in- 
stance, or soldiers and civilians." 

"Then again," replied Edward, "as these are united 
together under common laws and customs, so there are 
intermediate members in our chemical world which will 
combine elements that are mutually repulsive." 

"Oil, for instance," said the Captain, "we make com- 
bine with water with the help of alkalis " 

"Do not go on too fast with your lesson," said Char- 
lotte. "Let me see that I keep step with you. Are we 
not here arrived among the affinities?" 

"Exactly," replied the Captain; "we are on the point 
of apprehending them in all their power and distinctness ; 
such natures as, when they come in contact, at once lay 
hold of each other, and mutually affect one another, we 
speak of as having an affinity for the other. With the 
alkalis and acids, for instance, the affinities are strikingly 
marked. They are of opposite natures; very likely their 
being of opposite natures is the secret of their effect on 
one another they seek one another eagerly out, lay hold 
of each other, modify each other's character, and form in 
connection an entirely new substance. There is lime, you 
remember, which shows the strongest inclination for all 


Elective Affinities 

sorts of acids a distinct desire of combining with them. 
As soon as our chemical chest arrives, we can show you 
a number of entertaining experiments, which will give 
you a clearer idea than words and names and technical 
. expressions." 

"It appears to me," said Charlotte, "that if you choose 
to call these strange creatures of yours related, the rela- 
tionship is not so much a relationship of blood as of soul 
or of spirit. It is the way in which we see all really 
deep friendships arise among men ; opposite peculiarities 
of disposition being what best makes internal union pos- 
sible. But I will wait to see what you can really show 
me of these mysterious proceedings ; and for the present," 
she added, turning to Edward, "I will promise not to 
disturb you any more in your reading. You have 
taught me enough of what it is about to enable me to 
attend to it." 

"No, no," replied Edward, "now that you have once 
stirred the thing, you shall not get off so easily. It is just 
the most complicated cases which are the most interest- 
ing. In these you come first to see the degrees of the 
affinities, to watch them as their power of attraction is 
weaker or stronger, nearer or more remote. Affinities 
1 only begin really to interest when they bring about sep- 
l arations." 

"What!" cried Charlotte, "is that miserable word, 
-which unhappily we hear so often nowadays in the world ; 
is that to be found in nature's lessons too ?" 

"Most certainly/* answered Edward; "the title with 


Elective Affinities 

which chemists were supposed to be most honorably dis- 
tinguished was, artists of separation." 

"It is not so any more," replied Charlotte; "and it is 
well that it is not. It is a higher art, and it is a higher 
merit, to unite. An artist of union is what we should 
welcome in every province of the universe. However, 
as we are on the subject again, give me an instance or 
two of what you mean." 

"We had better keep," said the Captain, "to the same 
instances of which we have already been speaking. Thus, 
what we call limestone is a more or less pure calcareous 
earth in combination with a delicate acid, which is famil- 
iar to us in the form of a gas. Now, if we place a piece 
of this stone in diluted sulphuric acid, this will take pos- 
session of the lime, and appear with it in the form of 
gypsum, the gaseous acid at the same going off in vapor. 
Here is a case of separation; a combination arises, and 
we believe ourselves now justified in applying to it the 
words 'Elective Affinity' ; it really looks as if one relation 
had been deliberately chosen in preference to another." 

"Forgive me," said Charlotte, "as I forgive the natural 
philosopher. I can not see any choice in this; I see a 
natural necessity rather, and scarcely that. After all, it 
is perhaps merely a case of opportunity. Opportunity 
makes relations as it makes thieves; and as long as the 
talk is only of natural substances, the choice to me appears 
to be altogether in the hands of the chemist who brings 
the creatures together. Once, however, let them be 
brought together, and then God have mercy on them. In 


Elective Affinities 

the present case, I can not help being sorry for the poor 
acid gas which is driven out, up, and down infinity 

"The acid's business," answered the Captain, "is now 
to get connected with water, and so serve as a mineral 
fountain for the refreshing of sound or disordered man- 

"That is very well for the gypsum to say," said Char- 
lotte. "The gypsum is all right, is a body, is provided 
for. The other poor, desolate creature may have trouble 
enough to go through before it can find a second home 
for itself." 

"I am much mistaken," said Edward, smiling, "if there 
be not some little hidden meaning behind this. Confess 
your wickedness ! You mean me by your lime ; the lime 
is laid hold of by the Captain, in the form of sulphuric 
acid, torn away from your agreeable society, and meta- 
morphosed into a refractory gypsum." 

"If your conscience prompts you to make such a reflec- 
tion," replied Charlotte, "I certainly need not distress 
myself. These comparisons are pleasant and entertain- 
ing ; and who is there that does not like playing with anal- 
ogies? But man is raised very many steps above these 
elements; and if he has been somewhat liberal with such 
fine words as Election and Elective Affinities, he will do 
well to turn back again into himself, and take the oppor- 
tunity of considering carefully the value and meaning of 
such expressions. Unhappily, we know cases enough 
where a connection, apparently indissoluble between two 


Elective Affinities 

persons, has, by the accidental introduction of a third, 
been utterly destroyed, and one or the other of the once 
happily united pair been driven out into the wilderness." 

"Then you see how much more gallant the chemists 
are," said Edward. "They at once add a fourth, that 
neither may go away empty." 

"Quite so," replied the Captain. "And those are the 
cases which are really most important and remarkable 
cases where this attraction, this affinity, this separating 
and combining, can be exhibited, the two pairs severally 
crossing each other; where four creatures, connected pre- 
viously, as two and two, are brought into contact, and at 
once forsake their first combination to form into a second. 
In this forsaking and embracing, this seeking and flying, 
we believe that we are indeed observing the effects of 
some higher determination; we attribute a sort of will 
and choice to such creatures, and feel really justified 
in using technical words, and speaking of 'Elective 
Affinities.' " 

"Give me an instance of this," said Charlotte. 

"One should not spoil such things with words," replied 
the Captain. "As I said before, as soon as I can show 
you the experiment, I can make it all intelligible and 
pleasant for you. For the present, I can give you noth- 
ing but horrible scientific expressions, which at the same 
time will give you no idea about the matter. You ought 
yourself to see these creatures, which seem so dead, and 
which are yet so full of inward energy and force at work 
before your eyes. You should observe them with a real 


Elective Affinities 

personal interest. Now they seek each other out, attract 
each other, seize, crush, devour, destroy each other, and 
then suddenly reappear again out of their combinations, 
and come forward in fresh, renovated, unexpected form ; 
thus you will comprehend how we attribute to them a sort 
of immortality how we speak of them as having sense 
and understanding ; because we feel our own senses to be 
insufficient to observe them adequately, and our reason 
too weak to follow them." 

"I quite agree," said Edward, "that the strange scien- 
tific nomenclature to persons who have not been recon- 
ciled to it by a direct acquaintance with or understanding 
of its object must seem unpleasant, even ridiculous; but 
we can easily just for once, contrive with symbols to 
illustrate what we are speaking of." 

"If you do not think it looks pedantic," answered the 
Captain, "I can put my meaning together with letters. 
Suppose an A connected so closely with a B that all sorts 
of means, even violence, have been made use of to separate 
them, without effect. Then suppose a C in exactly the 
same position with respect to D. Bring the two pairs 
into contact ; A will fling himself on D, C on B, without 
its being possible to say which had first left its first con- 
nection, or made the first move toward the second." 

"Now then," interposed Edward, "till we see all this 
with our eyes, we will look upon the formula as an anal- 
ogy, out of which we can devise a lesson for immediate 
use. You stand for A, Charlotte, and I am your B-; 
really and truly I cling to you, I depend on you, and fol- 


Elective Affinities 

low you, just as B does with A. C is obviously the Cap- 
tain, who at present is in some degree withdrawing me 
from you. So now it is only just that if you are not to 
be left to solitude, a D should be found for you, and that 
is unquestionably the amiable little lady, Ottilie. You 
will not hesitate any longer to send and fetch her." 

"Good," replied Charlotte; "although the example does 
not, in my opinion, exactly fit our case. However, we 
have been fortunate, at any rate, in to-day for once hav- 
ing met all together; and these natural or elective affini- 
ties have served to unite us more intimately. I will tell 
you that since this afternoon I have made up my mind to 
send for Ottilie. My faithful housekeeper, on whom I 
have hitherto depended for everything, is going to leave 
me shortly, to be married. (It was done at my own sug- 
gestion, I believe, to please me.) What it is which has 
decided me about Ottilie, you shall read to me. I will 
not look over the pages again. Indeed, the contents of 
them are already known to me. Only read, read !" 

With these words, she produced a letter, and handed it 
to Edward. 


Elective Affinities 



"YouR ladyship will forgive the brevity of my present 
letter. The public examinations are but just concluded, 
and I have to communicate to all the parents and guar- 
dians the progress which our pupils have made during the 
past year. To you I may well be brief, having to say 
much in few words. Your ladyship's daughter has proved 
herself first in every sense of the word. The testimonials 
which I enclose, and her own letter, in which she will 
detail to you the prizes which she has won, and the hap- 
piness which she feels in her success, will surely please, 
and I hope delight you. For myself, it is the less neces- 
sary that I should say much, because I see that there will 
soon be no more occasion to keep with us a young lady 
so far advanced. I send my respects to your ladyship, 
and in a short time I shall take the liberty of offering you 
my opinion as to what in future may be of most advan- 
tage to her. 

"My good assistant will tell you about Ottilie." 


"Our reverend superior leaves it to me to write to you 
of Ottilie, partly because, with her ways of thinking about 


Elective Affinities 

it, it would be painful to her to say what has to be said ; 
partly because she herself requires some excusing, which 
she would rather have done for her by me. 

"Knowing, as I did too well, how little able the good 
Ottilie was to show out what lies in her, and what she is 
capable of, I was all along afraid of this public examina- 
tion. I was the more uneasy, as it was to be of a kind 
which does not admit of any especial preparation; and 
even if it had been conducted as usual, Ottilie never can 
be prepared to make a display. The result has only too 
entirely justified my anxiety. She has gained no prize; 
she is not even among those whose names have been men- 
tioned with approbation. I need not go into details. In 
writing, the letters of the other girls were not so well 
formed, but their strokes were far more free. In arith- 
metic, they were all quicker than she; and in the more 
difficult problems, which she does the best, there was no 
examination. In French, she was outshone and out- 
talked by many; and in history she was not ready with 
her names and dates. In geography, there was a want 
of attention to the political divisions; and for what she 
could do in music there was neither time nor quiet enough 
for her few modest melodies to gain attention. In draw- 
ing she certainly would have gained the prize; her out- 
lines were clear, and the execution most careful and full 
of spirit; unhappily, she had chosen too large a subject, 
and it was incomplete. 

"After the pupils were dismissed, the examiners con- 
sulted together, and we teachers were partially admitted 


Elective Affinities 

into the council. I very soon observed that of Ottilie 
either nothing would be said at all, or if her name was 
mentioned, it would be with indifference, if not absolute 
disapproval. I hoped to obtain some favor for her by a 
candid description of what she was, 4 and I ventured it with 
the greater earnestness, partly because I was only speak- 
ing my real convictions, and partly because I remembered 
in my own younger years finding myself in the same un- 
fortunate case. I was listened to with attention, but as 
soon as I had ended, the presiding examiner said to me 
very kindly but laconically, 'We presume capabilities : they 
are to be converted into accomplishments. This is the 
aim of all education. It is what is distinctly intended by 
all who have the care of children, and silently and indis- 
tinctly by the children themselves. This also is the object 
of examinations, where teachers and pupils are alike 
standing their trial. From what we learn of you, we may 
entertain good hopes of the young lady, and it is to your 
own credit also that you have paid so much attention to 
your pupil's capabilities. If in the coming year you can 
develop these into accomplishments, neither yourself nor 
your pupil shall fail to receive your due praise/ 

"I had made up my mind to what must follow upon all 
this ; but there was something worse that I had not antic- 
ipated, which had soon to be added to it. Our good 
Superior, who, like a trusty shepherdess, could not bear 
to have one of her flock lost, or, as was the case here, to 
see it undistinguished, after the examiners were gone 
could not contain her displeasure, and said to Ottilie, who 


Elective Affinities 

was standing quite quietly by the window, while the others 
were exulting over their prizes: 'Tell me, for heaven's 
sake, how can a person look so stupid if she is not so?' 
Ottilie replied, quite calmly, 'Forgive me, my dear mother, 
I have my headache again to-day, and it is very painful.' 
Kind and" sympathizing as she generally is, the Superior 
this time answered, 'No one can believe that,' and turned 
angrily away. 

"Now it is true no one can believe it for Ottilie 
never alters the expression of her countenance. I have 
never even seen her move her hand to her head when she 
has been asleep. 

"Nor was this all. Your ladyship's daughter, who is 
at all times sufficiently lively and impetuous, after her 
triumph to-day was overflowing with the violence of her 
spirits. She ran from room to room with her prizes and 
testimonials, and shook them in Ottilie's face. 'You have 
come badly off this morning,' she cried. Ottilie replied in 
her calm, quiet way, 'This is not the last day of trial.' 
'But you will always remain the last,' cried the other, 
and ran away. 

"No one except myself saw that Ottilie was disturbed. 
She has a way when she experiences any sharp unpleas- 
ant emotion which she wishes to resist of showing it in 
the unequal color of her face ; the left cheek becomes for 
a moment flushed, while the right turns pale. I per- 
ceived this symptom, and I could not prevent myself from 
saying something. I took our Superior aside, and spoke 
seriously to her about it. The excellent lady acknowl- 


Elective Affinities 

edged that she had been wrong. We considered the 
whole affair; we talked it over at great length together, 
and not to weary your ladyship, I will tell you at once 
the desire with which we concluded, namely, that you 
will for a while have Ottilie with yourself. Our reasons 
you will yourself readily perceive. If you consent, I will 
say more to you on the manner in which I think she 
should be treated. The young lady your daughter we 
may expect will soon leave us, and we shall then with 
pleasure welcome Ottilie back to us. 

"One thing more, which another time I might forget 
to mention : I have never seen Ottilie eager for anything, 
or at least ask pressingly for anything. But there have 
been occasions, however rare, when on the other hand she 
has wished to decline things which have been pressed upon 
her, and she does it with a gesture which to those who 
have caught its meaning is irresistible. She raises her 
hands, presses the palms together, and draws them against 
her breast, leaning her body a little forward at the same 
time, and turns such a look upon the person who is urging 
her that he will be glad enough to cease to ask or wish for 
anything of her. If your ladyship ever sees this attitude, 
as with your treatment of her it is not likely that you will, 
think of me, and spare Ottilie." 

Edward read these letters aloud, not without smiles and 
shakes of the head. Naturally, too, there were observa- 
tions made on the persons and on the position of the 


Elective Affinities 

"Enough !" Edward cried at last, "it is decided. She 
comes. You, my love, are provided for, and now we can 
get forward with our work. It is becoming highly neces- 
sary for me to move over to the right wing to the Cap- ,/ 
tain; evenings and mornings are the time for us best to 
work together, and then you, on your side, will have ad- 
mirable room for yourself and Ottilie." 

Charlotte made no objection, and Edward sketched out 
the method in which they should live. Among other 
things, he cried, "It is really very polite in this niece to 
be subject to a slight pain on the left side of her head. 
I have it frequently on the right. If we happen to be 
afflicted together, and sit opposite one another I leaning 
on my right elbow, and she on her left, and our heads on 
the opposite sides, resting on our hands what a pretty 
pair of pictures we shall make." 

The Captain thought that might be dangerous. "No, 
no!" cried out Edward. "Only do you, my dear friend, 
take care of the D, for what will become of B, if poor C 
is taken away from it?" 

"That, I should have thought, would have been evident 
enough," replied Charlotte. 

"And it is, indeed," cried Edward; "he would turn 
back to his A, to his Alpha and Omega ;" and he sprang 
up and, taking Charlotte in his arms, pressed her to his 

Elective Affinities 


THE carriage which brought Ottilie drove up to the 
door. Charlotte went out to receive her. The dear girl 
ran to meet her, threw herself at her feet, and embraced 
her knees. 

"Why such humility?" said Charlotte, a little embar- 
rassed, and endeavoring to raise her from the ground. 

"It is not meant for humility," Ottilie answered, with- 
out moving from the position in which she had placed 
herself; "I am only thinking of the time when I could 
not reach higher than to your knees, and when I had just 
learned to know how you loved me." 

She stood up, and Charlotte embraced her warmly. 
She was introduced to the gentlemen, and was at once 
treated with especial courtesy as a visitor. Beauty is a 
welcome guest everywhere. She appeared attentive to 
the conversation, without taking a part in it. 

The next morning Edward said to Charlotte, "What an 
agreeable, entertaining girl she is !" 

"Entertaining!" answered Charlotte, with a smile; 
"why, she has not opened her lips yet!" 

"Indeed !" said Edward, as he seemed to bethink him- 
self ; "that is very strange." 


Elective Affinities 

Charlotte had to give the newcomer but a very few 
hints on the management of the household. Ottilie saw 
rapidly all the arrangements, and what was more, she felt 
them. She comprehended easily what was to be pro- 
vided for the whole party, and what for each particular 
member of it. 

Everything was done with the utmost punctuality ; she 
knew how to direct, without appearing to be giving 
orders, and when any one had left anything undone, she 
at once set it right herself. 

As soon as she had found how much time she would 
have to spare, she begged Charlotte to divide her hours 
for her, and to these she adhered exactly. She worked 
at what was set before her in the way which the Assist- 
ant had described to Charlotte. They let her alone. It 
was but seldom that Charlotte interfered. Sometimes she 
changed her pens for others which had been written with, 
to teach her to make bolder strokes in her handwriting, 
but these, she found, would be soon cut sharp and fine 

The ladies had agreed with one another when they 
were to speak nothing but French, and Charlotte per- 
sisted in it the more, as she found Ottilie more ready to 
talk in a foreign language, when she was told it was her 
duty to exercise herself in it. In this way she often said 
more than she seemed to intend. Charlotte was particu- 
larly pleased with a description, most complete, but at 
the same time most charming and amiable, which she 
gave her one day, by accident, of the school. She soon 


Elective Affinities 

felt her to be a delightful companion, and before long she 
hoped to find in her an attached friend. 

At the same time she looked over again the more early 
accounts which had been sent her of Ottilie, to refresh her 
recollection with the opinion which the Superior and the 
Assistant had formed about her, and compare them 
with her in her own person. For Charlotte was of opin- 
ion that we can not too quickly become acquainted with 
the character of those with whom we have to live, that 
we may know what to expect of them, where we may hope 
to do anything in the way of improvement with them, 
and what we must make up our minds, once for all, to 
tolerate and let alone. 

This examination led her to nothing new, indeed ; but 
much which she already knew became of greater mean- 
ing and importance. Ottilie's moderation in eating and 
drinking, for instance, became a real distress to her. 

The next thing on which the ladies were employed was 
Ottilie's toliet. Charlotte wished her to appear in clothes 
of a richer and more distinguished sort, and at once the 
clever active girl herself cut out the stuff which had been 
previously sent to her, and with a very little assistance 
from others was able, in a short time, to dress herself 
out most tastefully. The new fashionable dresses set off 
her figure. An agreeable person, it is true, will show 
through all disguises ; but we always fancy it looks fresher 
and more graceful when its peculiarities appear under 
some new drapery. And thus, from the moment of her 
first appearance, she became more and more a delight to 


Elective Affinities 

the eyes of all who beheld her. As the emerald refreshes 
the sight with its beautiful hues, and exerts, it is said, 
a beneficent influence on that noble sense, so does human 
beauty work with far larger potency on the outward and 
on the inward sense; whoever looks upon it is charmed 
against the breath of evil, and feels in harmony with 
himself and with the world. 

In many ways, therefore, the party had gained by Ot- 
tilie's arrival. The Captain and Edward kept regularly 
to the hours, even to the minutes, for their general meet- 
ing together. They never kept the others waiting for 
them, either for dinner or tea, or for their walks; and 
they were in less haste, especially in the evenings, to 
leave the table. This did not escape Charlotte's observa- 
tion; she watched them botH, to see whether one more 
than the other was the occasion of it. But she could not 
perceive any difference. They had both become more 
companionable. In their conversation they seemed to 
consider what was best adapted to interest Ottilie; what 
was most on a level with her capacities and her general 
knowledge. If she left the room when they were reading 
or telling stories, they would wait till she returned. They 
had grown softer and altogether more united. 

In return for this, Ottilie's anxiety to be of use in- 
creased every day; the more she came to understand the 
house, its inmates, and their circumstances, the more 
eagerly she entered into everything, caught every look 
and every motion ; half a word, a sound, was enough for 
her. With her calm attentiveness, and her easy, unex- 

Elective Affinities 

cited activity, she was always the same. Sitting, rising 
up, going, coming, fetching, carrying, returning to her 
place again, it was all in the most perfect repose; a con- 
stant change, a constant agreeable movement; while, at 
the same time, she went about so lightly that her step was 
almost inaudible. 

This cheerful obligingness in Ottilie gave Charlotte the 
greatest pleasure. There was one thing, however, which 
she did not exactly like, of which she had to speak to her. 
"It is very polite in you," she said one day to her, "when 
people let anything fall from their hand, to be so quick 
in stooping and picking it up for them ; at the same time, 
it is a sort of confession that they have a right to require 
such attention, and in the world we are expected to be 
careful to whom we pay it. Toward women, I will not 
prescribe any rule as to how you should conduct your- 
self. You are young. To those above you, and older 
than you, services of this sort are a duty; toward your 
equals they are polite; to those younger than yourself 
and your inferiors you may show yourself kind and 
good-natured by such things only it is not becoming 
in a young lady to do them for men." 

"I will try to forget the habit," replied Ottilie; "I think 
however, you will in the meantime forgive me for my 
want of manners, when I tell you how I came by it. We 
were taught history at school ; I have not gained as much' 
out of it as I ought, for I never knew what use I was to 
make of it ; a few little things, however, made a deep im- 
pression upon me, among which was the following : When 


Elective Affinities 

Charles the First of England was standing before his so- 
called judges, the gold top came off the stick which he 
had in his hand, and fell down. Accustomed as he had 
been on such occasions to have everything done for him, 
he seemed to look round and expect that this time too 
some one would do him this little service. No one stirred, 
and he stooped down for it himself. It struck me as so 
piteous that from that moment I have never been able to 
see any one let a thing fall without myself picking it up. 
But, of course, as it is not always proper, and as I can 
not," she continued, smiling, "tell my story every time I 
do it, in future I will try and contain myself." 

In the meantime the fine arrangements which the two 
friends had been led to make for themselves, went unin- 
terruptedly forward. Every day they found something 
new to think about and undertake. 

One day as they were walking together through the vil- 
lage, they had to remark with dissatisfaction how far 
behindhand it was in order and cleanliness compared to 
villages where the inhabitants were compelled by the ex- 
pense of building-ground to be careful about such things. 

"You remember a wish we once expressed when we 
were traveling in Switzerland together," said the Captain, 
"that we might have the laying out of some country park, 
and how beautiful we would make it by introducing into 
some village situated like this, not the Swiss style of 
building, but Swiss order and neatness which so much 
improve it." 

"And how well it would answer here! The hill on 


(A) 4 VOL. 2 

Elective Affinities 

which the castle stands slopes down to that projecting 
angle. The village, you see, is built in a semicircle, regu- 
larly enough, just opposite to it. The brook runs be- 
tween. It is liable to floods ; and do observe the way the 
people set about protecting themselves from them; one 
with stones, another with stakes ; the next puts up a board- 
ing, and a fourth tries beams and planks; no one, of 
course, doing any good to another with his arrangement, 
but only hurting himself and the rest too. And then 
there is the road going along just in the clumsiest way 
possible up hill and down, through the water, and over 
the stones. If the people would only lay their hands to 
the business together, it would cost them nothing but a 
little labor to run a semicircular wall along here, take the 
road in behind it, raising it to the level of the houses, and 
so give themselves a fair open space in front, making the 
whole place clean, and getting rid, once for all, in one 
good general work, of all their little trifling ineffectual 

"Let us try it," said the Captain, as he ran his eyes over 
the lay of the ground, and saw quickly what was to be 

"I can undertake nothing in company with peasants 
and shopkeepers," replied Edward, "unless I may have 
unrestricted authority over them." 

"You are not so wrong in that," returned the Captain ; 
"I have experienced too much trouble myself in life in 
matters of that kind. How difficult it is to prevail on a 
man to venture boldly on making a sacrifice for an after- 


Elective Affinities 

advantage! How hard to get him to desire an end, and 
not hesitate at the means! So many people confuse 
means with ends ; they keep hanging over the first, with- 
out having the other before their eyes. Every evil is to 
be cured at the place where it comes to the surface, and 
they will not trouble themselves to look for the cause 
which produces it, or the remote effect which results from 
it. This is why it is so difficult to get advice listened to, 
especially among the many : they can see clearly enough 
from day to day, but their scope seldom reaches beyond 
the morrow ; and if it comes to a point where with some 
general arrangement one person will gain while another 
will lose, there is no prevailing on them to strike a bal- 
ance. Works of public advantage can only be carried 
through by an uncontrolled absolute authority." 

While they were standing and talking, a man came up 
and begged of them. He looked more impudent than 
really in want, and Edward, who was annoyed at being 
interrupted, after two or three fruitless attempts to get 
rid of him by a gentler refusal, spoke sharply to him. 
The fellow began to grumble and mutter abusively; he 
went off with short steps, talking about the right of beg- 
gars. It was all very well to refuse them an alms, but 
that was no reason why they should be insulted. A beg- 
gar, and everybody else too, was as much under God's 
protection as a lord. It put Edward out of all patience. 

The Captain, to pacify him, said, "Let us make use of 
this as an occasion for extending our rural police ar- 
rangements to such cases. We are bound to give away 


Elective Affinities 

money, but we do better in not giving it in person, espe- 
cially at home. We should be moderate and uniform in 
everything, in our charities as in all else ; too great liber- 
ality attracts beggars instead of helping them on their 
way. At the same time there is no harm when one is on 
a journey, or passing through a strange place, in appear- 
ing to a poor man in the street in the form of a chance 
deity of fortune, and making him some present which 
shall surprise him. The position of the village and of the 
castle makes it easy for us to put our charities here on 
a proper footing. I have thought about it before. The 
public-house is at one end of the village, a respectable 
old couple live at the other. At each of these places de- 
posit a small sum of money, and let every beggar, not as 
he comes in, but as he goes out, receive something. Both 
houses lie on the roads which lead to the castle, so that 
any one who goes there can be referred to one or the 

"Come," said Edward, "we will settle that on the spot. 
The exact sum can be made up anothei time." 

They went to the innkeeper, and to tLe old couple, and 
the thing was done. 

"I know very well," Edward said, as they were walk- 
ing up the hill to the castle together, "that everything in 
this world depends on distinctness of idea and firmness of 
purpose. Your judgment of what my wife has been 
doing in the park was entirely right; and you have al- 
ready given me a hint how it might be improved. I 
will not deny that I told her of it." 

Elective Affinities 

"So I Have been led to suspect," replied the Captain; 
"and I could not approve of your having done so. You 
have perplexed her. She has left off doing anything; 
and on this one subject she is vexed with us. She avoids 
speaking, of it. She has never since invited us to go with 
her to the summer-house, although at odd hours she goes 
up there with Ottilie." 

"We must not allow ourselves to be deterred by that," 
answered Edward. "If I am once convinced about any- 
thing good, which could and should be done, I can never 
rest till I see it done. We are clever enough at other 
times in introducing what we want into the general con- 
versation ; suppose we have out some descriptions of En- 
glish parks, with copper-plates, for our evening's amuse- 
ment. Then we can follow with your plan. We will treat 
it first problematically, and as if we were only in jest. 
There will be no difficulty in passing into earnest." 

The scheme was concerted, and the books were opened. 
In each group of designs they first saw a ground-plan of 
the spot, with the general character of the landscape, 
drawn in its rude, natural state. Then followed others, 
showing the changes which had been produced by art 
to employ and set off the natural advantages of the local- 
ity. From these to their own property and their own 
grounds, the transition was easy. 

Everybody was pleased. The chart which the Captain 
had sketched was brought and spread out The only dif- 
ficulty was that they could not entirely free themselves of 
the plan which Charlotte had begun. However, an easier 


Elective Affinities 

way up the hill was found ; a lodge was suggested to be 
built on the height at the edge of the cliff, which was to 
have an especial reference to the castle. It was to form 
a conspicuous object from the castle windows, and from 
it the spectator was to be able to overlook both the castle 
and the garden. 

The Captain had thought it all carefully over, and 
taken his measurements; and now he brought up again 
the village road and the wall by the brook, and the ground 
which was to be raised behind it. 

"Here, you see," said he, "while I make this charming 
walk up the height, I gain exactly the quantity of stone 
which I require for that wall. Let one piece of work help 
the other, and both will be carried out most satisfactorily 
and most rapidly." 

"But now," said Charlotte, "comes my side of the busi- 
ness. A certain definite outlay of money will have to be 
made. We ought to know how much will be wanted for 
such a purpose, and then we can apportion it out so 
much work, and so much money, if not by weeks, at least 
by months. The cash-box is under my charge. I pay 
the bills, and I keep the accounts." 

"You do not appear to have overmuch confidence in 
us," said Edward. 

"I have not much in arbitrary matters," Charlotte 
answered. "Where it is a case of inclination, we women 
know better how to control ourselves than you." 

It was settled; the dispositions were made, and the 
work was begun at once. 


Elective Affinities 

The Captain being always on the spot, Charlotte was 
almost daily a witness to the strength and clearness of his 
understanding. He, too, learned to know her better ; and 
it became easy for them both to work together, and thus 
bring something to completeness. It is with work as 
with dancing ; persons who keep the same step must jfrow^ 
indispensable to one another. Oufof this a mutual kindly 
feeling "will necessarily arise; and that Charlotte had a 
real kind feeling toward the Captain, after she came to 
know him better, was sufficiently proved by her allowing 
him to destroy her pretty seat, which in her first plans 
she had taken such pains in ornamenting, because it was 
in the way of his own, without experiencing the slight- 
est feeling about the matter. 


Elective Affinities 


Now that Charlotte was occupied with the Captain, it 
was a natural consequence that Edward should attach 
himself more to Ottilie. Independently of this, indeed, 
for some time past he had begun to feel a silent kind of 
attraction toward her. Obliging and attentive she was to 
every one, but his self-love whispered that toward him 
she was particularly so. She had observed his little 
fancies about his food. She knew exactly what things 
he liked, and the way in which he liked them to be pre- 
pared; the quantity of sugar which he liked in his tea; 
and so on. Moreover, she was particularly careful to 
prevent drafts, about which he was excessively sensitive, 
and, indeed, about which, with his wife, who could never 
have air enough, he was often at variance. So, too, she 
had come to know about fruit-gardens and flower-gar- 
dens ; whatever he liked, it was her constant effort to pro- 
cure for him, and to keep away whatever annoyed him; 
so that very soon she grew indispensable to him she 
became like his guardian angel, and he felt it keenly 
whenever she was absent. Besides all this, too, she ap- 
peared to grow more open and conversible as soon as 
they were alone together. 


Elective Affinities 

Edward, as he advanced in life, had retained some- 
thing childish about himself, which corresponded singu- 
larly well with the youthfulness of Ottilie. They liked 
talking of early times, when they had first seen each 
other; and these reminiscences led them up to the first 
epoch of Edward's affection for Charlotte. Ottilie de- 
clared that she remembered them both as the handsomest 
pair about the court; and when Edward would question 
the possibility of this, when she must have been so ex- 
ceedingly young, she insisted that she recollected one par- 
ticular incident as clearly as possible. He had come into 
the room where her aunt was, and she had hid her face 
in Charlotte's lap not from fear, but from a childish 
surprise. She might have added, because he had made 
so strong an impression upon her because she had liked 
him so much. 

While they were occupied in this way, much of the 
business which the two friends had undertaken together 
had come to a standstill ; so that they found it necessary 
to inspect how things were going on to work up a few 
designs and get letters written. For this purpose, they 
betook themselves to their office, where they found their 
old copyist at his desk. They set themselves to their 
work, and soon gave the old man enough to do, without 
observing that they were laying many things on his shoul- 
ders which at other times they had always done for them- 
selves. At the same time, the first design the Captain 
tried would not answer, and Edward was as unsuccessful 
with his first letter. They fretted for a while, planning 


Elective Affinities 

and erasing, till at last Edward, who was getting on the 
worst, asked what o'clock it was. And then it appeared 
that the Captain had forgotten, for the first time for 
many years, to wind up his chronometer; and they 
seemed, if not to feel, at least to have a dim perception 
that time was beginning to be indifferent to them. 

In the meanwhile, as the gentlemen were thus rather 
slackening in their energy, the activity of the ladies in- 
creased all the more. The every-day life of a family, 
which is composed of given persons, and is shaped out of 
necessary circumstances, may easily receive into itself an 
extraordinary affection, an incipient passion may re- 
ceive it into itself as into a vessel ; and a long time may 
elapse before the new ingredient produces a visible effer- 
vescence, and runs foaming over the edge. 

With our friends, the feelings which were mutually 
arising had the most agreeable effects. Their dispositions 
opened out, and a general good-will arose out of the sev- 
eral individual affections. Every member of the party 
was happy; and they each shared their happiness with 
the rest 

Such a temper elevates the spirit, while it enlarges the 
heart, and everything which, under the influence of it, 
people do and undertake, has a tendency toward the illim- 
itable. The friends could not remain any more shut up 
at home; their walks extended themselves further and 
further. Edward would hurry on before with Ottilie, 
to choose the path or pioneer the way ; and the Captain 
and Charlotte would follow quietly on the track of their 


Elective Affinities 

more hasty precursors, talking on some grave subject, or 
delighting themselves with some spot they had newly dis- 
covered, or some unexpected natural beauty. 

One day their walk led them down from the gate at the 
right wing of the castle, in the direction of the hotel, and 
thence over the bridge toward the ponds, along the sides 
of which they proceeded as far as it was generally thought 
possible to follow the water ; thickly wooded hills sloping 
directly up from the edge, and beyond these a wall of 
steep rocks, making further progress difficult, if not im- 
possible. But Edward, whose hunting experience had 
made him thoroughly familiar with the spot, pushed 
forward along an overgrown path with Ottilie, knowing 
well that the old mill could not be far off, which was 
somewhere in the middle of the rocks there. The path 
was so little frequented that they soon lost it; and for a 
short time they were wandering among mossy stones and 
thickets; it was not for long, however, the noise of the 
water-wheel speedily telling them that the place which 
they were looking for was close at hand. Stepping for- 
ward on a point of rock, they saw the strange old, dark 
wooden building in the hollow before them, quite shad- 
owed over with precipitous crags and huge trees. They 
determined directly to climb down amid the moss and the 
blocks of stone. Edward led the way; and when he 
looked back and saw Ottilie following, stepping lightly, 
without fear or nervousness, from stone to stone, so beau- 
tifully balancing herself, he fancied he was looking at 
some celestial creature floating above him; while if, as 


Elective Affinities 

she often did, she caught the hand which in some difficult 
spot he would offer her, or if she supported herself on his 
shoulder, then he was left in no doubt that it was a very 
exquisite human creature who touched him. He almost 
wished that she might slip pr stumble, that he might 
catch her in his arms and press her to his heart. This, 
however, he would under no circumstances have done, for 
more than one reason. He was afraid to wound her, and 
he was afraid to do her some bodily injury. 

What the meaning of this could be, we shall immedi- 
ately learn. When they had got down, and were seated 
opposite each other at a table under the trees, and when 
the miller's wife had gone for milk, and the miller, who 
had come out to them, was sent to meet Charlotte and the 
Captain, Edward, with a little embarrassment, began to 
speak : 

"I have a request to make, dear Ottilie; you will for- 
give me for asking it, if you will not grant it. You make 
no secret (I am sure you need not make any) that you 
wear a miniature under your dress against your breast. 
It is the picture of your noble father. You could hardly 
have known him; but in every sense he deserves a place 
by your heart. Only, forgive me, the picture is exceed- 
ingly large, and the metal frame and the glass, if you take 
up a child in your arms, if you are carrying anything, if 
the carriage swings violently, if we are pushing through 
bushes, or just now, as we were coming down these rocks 
cause me a thousand anxieties for you. Any unfore- 
seen blow, a fall, a touch, may be fatally injurious to you ; 


Elective Affinities 

and I am terrified at the possibility of it. For my sake do 
this : put away the picture, not out of your affections, not 
out of your room; let it have the brightest, the holiest 
place which you can give it ; only do not wear upon your 
breast a thing, the presence of which seems to me, per- 
haps from an extravagant anxiety, so dangerous." 

Ottilie said nothing, and while he was speaking she 
kept her eyes fixed straight before her; then, without 
hesitation, and without haste, with a look turned more 
toward heaven than on Edward, she unclasped the chain, 
drew out the picture, and pressed it against her forehead, 
and then reached it over to her friend, with the words : 

"Do you keep it for me till we come home ; I can not 
give you a better proof how deeply I thank you for your 
affectionate care." 

He did not venture to press the picture to his lips ; but 
he caught her hand and raised it to his eyes. They were, 
perhaps, two of the most beautiful hands which had ever 
been clasped together. He felt as if a stone had fallen / 
from his heart, as if a partition-wall had been thrown 
down between him and Ottilie. 

Under the miller's guidance, Charlotte and the Captain 
came down by an easier path, and now joined them. 
There was the meeting, and a happy talk, and then they 
took some refreshments. They would not return by the 
same way as they came ; and Edward struck into a rocky 
path on the other side of the stream, from which the 
ponds were again to be seen. They made their way along 
it, with some effort, and then had to cross a variety of 


Elective Affinities 

wood and copse getting glimpses, on the land side, of a 
number of villages and manor-houses, with their green 
lawns and fruit-gardens; while very near them, and 
sweetly situated on a rising ground, a farm lay in the 
middle of the wood. From a gentle ascent, they had a 
view, before and behind, which showed them the richness 
of the country to the greatest advantage ; and then, enter- 
ing a grove of trees, they found themselves, on again 
emerging from it, on the rock opposite the castle. 

They came upon it rather unexpectedly, and were of 
course delighted. They had made the circuit of a little 
world; they were standing on the spot where the new 
building was to be erected, and were looking again at the 
windows of their own home. 

They went down to the summer-house, and sat all four 
in it for the first time together ; nothing was more natural 
than that with one voice it should be proposed to have the 
way they had been that day, and which, as it was, had 
taken them much time and trouble, properly laid out and 
graveled, so that people might loiter along it at their 
leisure. They each said what they thought; and they 
reckoned up that the circuit, over which they had taken 
many hours, might be traveled easily with a good road all 
the way round to the castle, in a single one. 

Already a plan was being suggested for making the 
distance shorter, and adding a fresh beauty to the land- 
scape, by throwing a bridge across the stream, below the 
mill, where it ran into the lake; when Charlotte brought 
their inventive imagination somewhat to a standstill by 


Elective Affinities 

putting them in mind of the expense which such an under- 
taking would involve. 

"There are ways of meeting that too/' replied Edward ; 
"we have only to dispose of that farm in the forest which 
is so pleasantly situated, and which brings in so little in 
the way of rent : the sum which will be set free will more 
than cover what we shall require, and thus, having gained 
an invaluable walk, we shall receive the interest of well- 
expended capital in substantial enjoyment instead of, as 
now, in the summing up at the end of the year, vexing 
and fretting ourselves over the pitiful little income which 
is returned for it." 

Even Charlotte, with all her prudence, had little to urge 
against this. There had been, indeed, a previous inten- 
tion of selling the farm. The Captain was ready imme- 
diately with a plan for breaking up the ground into small 
portions among the peasantry of the forest. Edward, 
however, had a simpler and shorter way of managing it 
His present steward had already proposed to take it off 
his hands he was to pay for it by instalments and so, 
gradually, as the money came in, they would get their 
work forward from point to point 

So reasonable and prudent a scheme was sure of uni- 
versal approbation, and already, in prospect, they began 
to see their new walk winding along its way, and to im- 
agine the many beautiful views and charming spots which 
they hoped to discover in its neighborhood. 

To bring it all before themselves with greater fulness 
pf detail, in the evening they produced the new chart. 


Elective Affinities 

With the help of this they went over again the way that 
they had come, and found various places where the walk 
might take a rather different direction with advantage. 
Their other scheme was now once more talked through, 
and connected with the fresh design. The site for the 
new house in the park, opposite the castle, was a second 
time examined into and approved, and fixed upon for the 
termination of the intended circuit. 

Ottilie had said nothing all this time. At length Ed- 
ward pushed the chart, which had hitherto been lying be- 
fore Charlotte, across to her, begging her to give her 
opinion ; she still hesitated for a moment. Edward in his 
gentlest way again pressed her to let them know what 
she thought nothing had as yet been settled it was all 
as yet in embryo. 

"I would have the house built here," she said, as she 
pointed with her finger to the highest point of the slope 
on the hill. "It is true you can not see the castle from 
thence, for it is hidden by the wood ; but for that very rea- 
son you find yourself in another quite new world; you 
lose village and houses and all at the same time. The 
view of the ponds with the mill, and the hills and moun- 
tains in the distance, is singularly beautiful I have often 
observed it when I have been there." 

"She is right/' Edward cried; "how could we have 
overlooked it ? This is what you mean, Ottilie, is it not ?" 
He took a lead pencil, and drew a great black rectangular 
figure on the summit of the mill. 

It went through the Captain's soul to see his carefully 


Elective Affinities 

and clearly drawn chart disfigured in such a way. He 
collected himself, however, after a slight expression of 
his disapproval, and went into the idea. "Ottilie is 
right," he said; "we are ready enough to walk any dis- 
tance to drink tea or eat fish, because they would not 
have tasted as well at home we require change of scene 
and change of objects. Your ancestors showed their 
judgment in the spot which they chose for the castle ; for 
it is sheltered from the wind, with the conveniences of life 
close at hand. A place, on the contrary, which is more 
for pleasure parties than for a regular residence, may be 
very well yonder there, and in the fair time of year the 
most agreeable hours may be spent there." 

The more they talked it over, the more conclusive was 
their judgment in favor of Ottilie ; and Edward could not 
conceal his triumph that the thought had been hers. He 
was as proud as if he had hit upon it himself. 


Elective Affinities 


EARLY the following morning the Captain examined 
the spot: he first threw off a sketch of what should be 
done, and afterward, when the thing had been more com- 
pletely decided on, he made a complete design, with accu- 
rate calculations and measurements. It cost him a good 
deal of labor, and the business connected with the sale 
of the farm had to be gone into, so that both the gentle- 
men now found a fresh impulse to activity. 

The Captain made Edward observe that it would be 
proper indeed, that it would be a kind of duty to cele- 
brate Charlotte's birthday with laying the foundation- 
stone. Not much was wanted to overcome Edward's dis- 
inclination for such festivities for he quickly recollected 
that a little later Ottilie's birthday would follow, and that 
he could have a magnificent celebration for that. 

Charlotte, to whom all this work and what it would 
involve was a subject for much serious and almost anx- 
ious thought, busied herself in carefully going through 
the time and outlay which it was calculated would be ex- 
pended on it. During the day they rarely saw each other, 
so that the evening meeting was looked forward to with 
all the more anxiety. 


Elective Affinities 

Ottilie meantime was complete mistress of the house- 
hold and how could it be otherwise, with her quick 
methodical ways of working? Indeed, her whole mode 
of thought was suited better to home life than to the 
world, and to a more free existence. Edward soon ob- 
served that she only walked about with them out of a 
desire to please ; that when she stayed out late with them 
in the evening it was because she thought it a sort of 
social duty, and that she would often find a pretext in 
some household matter for going in again consequently 
he soon managed so to arrange the walks which they 
took together that they should be at home before sunset ; 
and he began again, what he had long left off, to read 
aloud poetry particularly such as had for its subject the 
expression of a pure but passionate love. 

They ordinarily sat in the evening in the same places 
round a small table Charlotte on the sofa, Ottilie on a 
chair opposite to her, and the gentlemen on each side. 
Ottilie's place was on Edward's right, the side where he 
put the candle when he was reading at such times she 
would draw her chair a little nearer to look over him, 
for Ottilie also trusted her own eyes better than another 
person's lips, and Edward would then always make a 
move toward her, that it might be as easy as possible for 
her indeed, he would frequently make longer stops than 
necessary, that he might not turn over before she had got 
to the bottom of the page. 

Charlotte and the Captain observed this, and exchanged 
many a quiet smile at it; but they were both taken by 


Elective Affinities 

surprise at arfotner symptom, in which Ottilie's latent feel- 
ing accidentally displayed itself. 

One evening, which had been partly spoiled for them 
by a tedious visit, Edward proposed that they should not 
separate so early he felt inclined for music he would 
take his flute, which he had not done for many days past. 
Charlotte looked for the sonatas which they generally 
played together, and they were not to be found. Ottilie, 
with some hesitation, said that they were in her room 
she had taken them there to copy them. 

"And you can, you will, accompany me on the piano?" 
cried Edward, his eyes sparkling with pleasure. 

"I think perhaps I can," Ottilie answered. She brought 
the music and sat down to the instrument. The others 
listened, and were sufficiently surprised to hear how per- 
fectly Ottilie had taught herself the piece but far more 
surprised were they at the way in which she contrived to 
adapt herself to Edward's style of playing. Adapt her- 
self is not the right expression Charlotte's skill and 
power enabled her, in order to please her husband, to 
keep up with him when he went too fast, and hold in for 
him if he hesitated; but Ottilie, who had several times 
heard them play the sonata together, seemed to have 
learned it according to the idea in which they accom- 
panied each other she had so completely made his de- 
fects her own that a kind of living* whole resulted from 
it, which did not move indeed according to exact rule, 
but the effect of which was in the highest degree pleasant 
and delightful. The composer himself would have been 


Elective Affinities 

pleased to hear his work disfigured in a manner so 

Charlotte and the Captain watched this strange unex- 
pected occurrence in silence, with the kind of feeling with 
which we often observe the actions of children unable 
exactly to approve of them, from the serious consequences 
which may follow, and yet without being able to find 
fault, perhaps with a kind of envy. For, indeed, the 
regard of these two for one another was growing also, 
as well as that of the others and it was perhaps only the 
more perilous because they were both stronger, more cer- 
tain of themselves, and better able to restrain themselves. 

The Captain had already begun to feel that a habit 
which he could not resist was threatening to bind him to 
Charlotte. He forced himself to stay away at the hour 
when she commonly used to be at the works; by getting 
up very early in the morning he contrived to finish there 
whatever he had to do, and went back to the castle to his 
work in his own room. The first day or two Charlotte 
thought it was an accident she looked for him in every 
place where she thought he could possibly be. Then she 
thought she understood him and admired him all the 

Avoiding, as the Captain now did, being alone with 
Charlotte, the more industriously did he labor to hurry 
forward the preparations for keeping her rapidly ap- 
proaching birthday with all splendor. While he was 
bringing up the new road from below behind the village, 
he made the men, under pretense that we wanted stones, 


Elective Affinities 

begin working 1 at the top as well, and work down, to meet 
the others ; and he had calculated his arrangements so that 
the two should exactly meet on the eve of the day. The 
excavations for the new house were already done; the 
rock was blown away with gunpowder; and a fair foun- 
dation-stone had been hewn, with a hollow chamber, and 
a flat slab adjusted to cover it. 

This outward activity, these little mysterious purposes 
of friendship, prompted by feelings which more or less 
they were obliged to repress, rather prevented the little 
party when together from being as lively as usual. Ed- 
ward, who felt that there was a sort of void, one evening 
called upon the Captain to fetch his violin Charlotte 
should play the piano, and he should accompany her. 
The Captain was unable to refuse the general request, 
and they executed together one of the most difficult pieces 
of music with an ease, and freedom, and feeling, which 
could not but afford themselves, and the two who were 
listening to them, the greatest delight. They promised 
themselves a frequent repetition of it, as well as further 
practise together. "They do it better than we, Ottilie," 
said Edward; "we will admire them but we can enjoy 
ourselves together too." 


Elective Affinities 


THE birthday was come, and everything was ready. 
The wall was all complete which protected the raised 
village road against the water, and so was the- walk; pass- 
ing the church, for a short time it followed the path which 
had been laid out by Charlotte, and then, winding upward 
among the rocks, inclined first under the summer-house 
to the right, and then, after a wide sweep, passed back 
above it to the right again, and so by degrees out on to 
the summit. 

A large party had assembled for the occasion. They 
went first to church, where they found the whole congre- 
gation collected together in their holiday dresses. After 
service, they filed out in order; first the boys, then the 
young men, then the old: after them came the party 
from the castle, with their visitors and retinue; and the 
village maidens, young girls, and women, brought up the 

At the turn of the walk, a raised stone seat had been 
contrived, where the Captain made Charlotte and the vis- 
itors stop and rest. From here they could see over the 
whole distance from the beginning to the end the troops 
of men who had gone up before them, the file of women 


Elective Affinities 

following, and now drawing up to where they were. It 
was lovely weather, and the whole effect was singularly 
beautiful. Charlotte was taken by surprise, she was 
touched, and she pressed the Captain's hand warmly. 

They followed the crowd who had slowly ascended, 
and were now forming a circle round the spot where the 
future house was to stand. The lord of the castle, his 
family, and the principal strangers were now invited to 
descend into the vault, where the foundation-stone, sup- 
ported on one side, lay ready to be let down. A well- 
dressed mason, a trowel in one hand and a hammer in the 
other, came forward, and with much grace spoke an 
address in verse, of which in prose we can give but an 
imperfect rendering. 

"Three things," he began, "are to be looked to in a 
building that it stand on the right spot; that it be 
securely founded; that it be successfully executed. The 
first is the business of the master of the house his and 
his only. As in the city the prince and the council alone 
determine where a building shall be, so in the country it 
is the right of the lord of the soil that he shall say, 'Here 
my dwelling shall stand ; here, and nowhere else/ ' 

Edward and Ottilie were standing opposite one an- 
other, as these words were spoken; but they did not 
venture to look up and exchange glances. 

"To the third, the execution, there is neither art nor 
handicraft which must not in some way contribute. But 
the second, the founding, is the province of the mason; 
and, boldly to speak it out, it is the head and front of all 


Elective Affinities 

the undertaking a solemn thing it is and our bidding 
you descend hither is full of meaning. You are celebrating 
your Festival in the deep of the earth. Here within this 
small hollow spot; you show us the honor of appearing 
as witnesses of our mysterious craft. Presently we shall 
lower down this carefully hewn stone into its place; and 
soon these earth-walls, now ornamented with fair and 
worthy persons, will be no more accessible but will be 
closed in forever! 

"This foundation-stone, which with its angles typifies 
the just angles of the building, with the sharpness of its 
molding, the regularity of it, and with the truth of its 
lines to the horizontal and perpendicular, the uprightness 
and equal height of all the walls, we might now without 
more ado let down it would rest in its place with its own 
weight. But even here there shall not fail of lime and 
means to bind it. For as human beings who may be well 
inclined to each other by nature, yet hold more firmly to- 
gether when the law cements them, so are stones also, 
whose forms may already fit together, united far better 
by these binding forces. It is not seemly to be idle among 
the working, and here you will not refuse to be our fel- 
low-laborer" with these words he reached the trowel to 
Charlotte, who threw mortar with it under the stone 
several of the others were then desired to do the same, 
and then it was at once let fall. Upon which the hammer 
was placed next in Charlotte's, and then in the others' 
hands, to strike three times with it, and conclude, in this 
expression, the wedlock of the stone with the earth. 


<(A)-5 VOL. 2 

Elective Affinities 

"The work of the mason," went on the speaker, "now 
under the free sky as we are, if it be not done in conceal- 
ment, yet must pass into concealment the soil will be 
laid smoothly in, and thrown over this stone, and with the 
walls which we rear into the daylight we in the end are 
seldom remembered. The works of the stone-cutter and 
the carver remain under the eyes ; but for us it is not to 
complain when the plasterer blots out the last trace of our 
hands, and appropriates our work to himself; when he 
overlays it, and smooths it, and colors it. 

"Not from regard for the opinion of others, but from 
respect for himself, the mason will be faithful in his call- 
ing. There is none who has more need to feel in himself 
the consciousness of what he is. When the house is fin- 
ished, when the soil is smoothed, and the surface plastered 
over, and the outside all overwrought with ornament, he 
can even see in yet through all disguises, and still recog- 
nize those exact and careful adjustments, to which the 
whole is indebted for its being and for its persistence. 

"But as the man who commits some evil deed has to 
fear that, notwithstanding all precautions, it will one day 
come to light so too must he expect who has done some 
good thing in secret that it also, in spite of himself, will 
appear in the day ; and therefore we make this foundation- 
stone at the same time a stone of memorial. Here, in 
these various hollows which have been hewn into it, 
many things are now to be buried, as a witness to some 
far-off world these metal cases hermetically sealed con- 
tain documents in writing; matters of various note are 


Elective Affinities 

engraved on these plates; in these fair glass bottles we 
bury the best old wine, with a note of the year of its 
vintage. We have coins too of many kinds, from the 
mint of the current year. All this we have received 
through the liberality of him for whom we build. There 
is space yet remaining, if guest or spectator desires to 
offer anything to the after- world !" 

After a slight pause the speaker looked round ; but, as 
is commonly the case on such occasions, no one was pre- 
pared ; they were all taken by surprise. At last, a merry- 
looking young officer set the example, and said, "If I am 
to contribute anything which as yet is not to be found in 
this treasure-chamber, it shall be a pair of buttons from 
my uniform I don't see why they do not deserve to go 
down to posterity !" No sooner said than done, and then 
a number of persons found something of the same sort 
which they could do ; the young ladies did not hesitate to 
throw in some of their side-hair combs smelling bottles 
and other trinkets were not spared. Only Ottilie hung 
back ; till a kind word from Edward roused her from the 
abstraction in which she was watching the various things 
being heaped in. Then she unclasped from her neck the 
gold chain on which" her father's picture had hung, and 
with a light gentle hand laid it down on the other jewels. 
Edward rather disarranged the proceedings by at once, 
in some haste, having the cover let fall, and fastened 

The young mason who had been most active through all 
this again took his place as orator, and went on, "We lay 


Elective Affinities 

down this stone forever, for the establishing the present 
and the future possessors of this house. But in that we 
bury this treasure together with it, we do it in the re- 
membrance in this most enduring of works of the per- 
ishableness of all human things. We remember that a 
time may come when this cover so fast sealed shall again 
be lifted: and that can only be when all shall again be 
destroyed which as yet we have not brought into being. 

"But now now that at once it may begin to be, back 
with our thoughts out of the future back into the pres- 
ent. At once, after the feast which we have this day 
kept together, let us on with our labor ; let no one of all 
those trades which are to work on our foundation, through 
us keep unwilling holiday. Let the building rise swiftly 
to its height, and out of the windows, which as yet have 
no existence, may the master of the house, with his family 
and with his guests, look forth with a glad heart over his 
broad lands. To him and to all here present herewith 
be health and happiness." 

With these words he drained a richly cut tumbler at a 
draft, and flung it into the air, thereby to signify the 
excess of pleasure by destroying the vessel which had 
served for such a solemn occasion. This time, however, 
it fell out otherwise. The glass did not fall back to the 
earth, and indeed without a miracle. 

In order to get forward with the buildings, they had 
already thrown out the whole of the soil at the opposite 
corner ; indeed, they had begun to raise the wall, and for 
this purpose had reared a scaffold as high as was abso- 


Elective Affinities 

lutely necessary. On the occasion of the festival, boards 
had been laid along the top of this, and a number of spec- 
tators were allowed to stand there. It had been meant 
principally for the advantage of the workmen themselves. 
The glass had flown up there, and had been caught by 
one of them, who took it as a sign of good luck for him- 
-self. He waved it round without letting it out of his 
hand, and the letters E and O were to be seen very richly . 
cut upon it, running one into the other. It was one of 
the glasses which had been executed for Edward when he 
was a boy. 

The scaffoldings were again deserted, and the most 
active among the party climbed up to look round them, 
and could not speak enough in praise of the beauty of the 
prospect on all sides. How many new discoveries does 
not a person make when on some high point he ascends 
but a single story higher. Inland many fresh villages 
came in sight. The line of the river could be traced like 
a thread of silver ; indeed, one of the party thought that 
he distinguished the spires of the capital. On the other 
side, behind the wooded hill, the blue peaks of the far-off 
mountains were seen rising, and the country immediately 
about them was spread out like a map. 

"If the three ponds," cried some one, "were but thrown 
together to make a single sheet of water, there would be 
everything here which is noblest and most excellent." 

"That might easily be effected," the Captain said. "In 
early times they must have formed all one lake among the 
hills here." 


Elective Affinities 

"Only I must beseech you to spare my clump of planes 
and poplars that stand so prettily by the centre pond," 
said Edward. "See* he turned to Ottilie, bringing her 
a few steps forward, and pointing down "those trees I 
planted myself." 

"How long have they been standing there?" asked 

"Just about as long as you have been in the world," 
replied Edward. "Yes, my dear child, I planted them 
when you were still lying in your cradle." 

The party now betook themselves back to the castle. 
After dinner was over they were invited to walk through 
the village to take a glance at what had been done there 
as well. At a hint from the Captain, the inhabitants had 
collected in front of the houses. They were not standing 
in rows, but formed in natural family groups, partly oc- 
cupied at their evening work, part out enjoying them- 
selves on the new benches. They had determined, as 
an agreeable duty which they imposed upon themselves, 
to have everything in its present order and cleanliness, at 
least every Sunday and holiday. 

A little party, held together by such feelings as had 
grown up among our friends, is always unpleasantly in- 
terrupted by a large concourse of people. All four were 
delighted to find themselves again alone in the large draw- 
ing-room, but this sense of home was a little disturbed by 
a letter which was brought to Edward, giving notice of 
fresh guests who were to arrive the following day. 

"It is as we supposed," Edward cried to Charlotte. 


Elective Affinities 

"The Count will not stay away; he is coming to- 

"Then the Baroness, too, is not far off," answered 

"Doubtless not," said Edward. "She is coming, too, 
to-morrow, from another place. They only beg to be al- 
lowed to stay for a night; the next day they will go on 

"We must prepare for them in time, Ottilie," said 

"What arrangement shall I desire to be made?" Ottilie 

Charlotte gave a general direction, and Ottilie left the 

The Captain inquired into the relation in which these 
two persons stood toward one another, and with which 
he was only very generally acquainted. They had some 
time before, both being already married, fallen violently 
in love with one another; a double marriage was not 
to be interfered with without attracting attention. A 
divorce was proposed. On the Baroness's side it could 
be effected, on that of the Count it could not. They were 
obliged seemingly to separate, but their position toward 
one another remained unchanged, and though in the win- 
ter at the Residence they were unable to be together, they 
indemnified themselves in the summer, while making 
tours and staying at watering-places. 

They were both slightly older than Edward and Char- 
lotte, and had been intimate with them from early times 


Elective Affinities 

at court. The connection had never been absolutely 
broken off, although it was impossible to approve of their 
proceedings. On the present occasion their coming was 
most unwelcome to Charlotte; and if she had looked 
closely into her reasons for feeling it so, she would have 
found it was on account of Ottilie. The poor innocent 
girl should not have been brought so early in contact with 
such an example. 

"It would have been more convenient if they had not 
come till a couple of days later," Edward was saying, as 
Ottilie reentered, "till we had finished with this business 
of the farm. The deed of sale is complete. One copy 
of it I have here, but we want a second, and our old 
clerk has fallen ill." The Captain offered his services, 
and so did Charlotte, but there was something or other to 
object to both of them. 

"Give it to me," cried Ottilie, a little hastily. 

"You will never be able to finish it," said Charlotte. 

"And really I must have it early the day after to-mor- 
row, and it is long," Edward added. 

"It shall be ready," Ottilie cried; and the paper was 
already in her hands. 

The next morning, as they were looking out from their 
highest windows for their visitors, whom they intended 
to go some way and meet, Edward said, "Who is that 
yonder, riding slowly along the road ?" 

The Captain described accurately the figure of the 

"Then it is he," said Edward ; "the particulars, which 


Elective Affinities 

you can see better than I, agree very well with the gen- 
eral figure, which I can see too. It is Mittler ; but what 
is he doing, coming riding at such a pace as that?" 

The figure came nearer, and Mittler it veritably was. 
They received him with warm greetings as he came 
slowly up the steps. 

"Why did you not come yesterday ?" Edward cried, as 
he approached. 

"I do not like your grand festivities," answered he; 
"but I am come to-day to keep my friend's birthday with 
you quietly." 

"How are you able to find time enough?" asked Ed- 
ward, with a laugh. 

"My visit, if you can value it, you owe to an obser- 
vation which I made yesterday. I was spending a right 
happy afternoon in a house where I had established peace, 
and then I heard that a birthday was being kept here. 
Now this is what I call selfish, after all, said I to myself : 
you will only enjoy yourself with those whose broken 
peace you have mended. Why can not you for once go 
and be happy with friends who keep the peace for them- 
selves ? No sooner said than done. Here I am, as I de- 
termined with myself that I would be." 

"Yesterday you would have met a large party here; 
to-day you will find but a small one," said Charlotte; 
"you will meet the Count and the Baroness, with whom 
you have had enough to do already, I believe." 

Out of the middle of the party, who had all four come 
down to welcome him, the strange man dashed in the 


Elective Affinities 

keenest disgust, seizing at the same time his hat and 
whip. "Some unlucky star is always over me," he cried, 
"directly I try to rest and enjoy myself. What business 
have I going out of my proper character ? I ought never 
to have come, and now I am persecuted away. Under 
one roof with those two I will not remain, and you take 
care of yourselves. They bring nothing but mischief; 
their nature is like leaven, and propagates its own con- 

They tried to pacify him, but it was in vain. "Who- 
ever strikes at marriage," he cried "whoever, either by 
word or act, undermines this, the foundation of all moral 
society, that man has to settle with me, and if I can not 
become his master, I take care to settle myself out of his 
way. Marriage is the beginning and the end of all cul- 
ture. It makes the savage mild ; and the most cultivated 
has no better opportunity for displaying his gentleness. 
Indissoluble it must be, because it brings so much happi- 
ness that what small exceptional unhappiness it may 
bring counts for nothing in the balance. And what do 
men mean by talking of unhappiness? Impatience it is 
which from time to time .comes over them, and then they 
fancy themselves unhappy. Let them wait till the mo- 
ment is gone by, and then they will bless their good for- 
tune that what has stood so long continues standing. 
There never can be any adequate ground for separation. 
The condition of man is pitched so high, in its joys 
and in its sorrows, that the sum which two married 
people owe to one another defies calculation. It is an 


Elective Affinities 

infinite debt, which can only be discharged through all 

"Its annoyances marriage may often have; I can well 
believe that, and it is as it should be. We are all married 
to our consciences, and there are times when we should 
be glad to be divorced from them ; mine gives me more 
annoyance than ever a man or a woman can give." 

All this he poured out with the greatest vehemence : he 
would very likely have gone on speaking longer, had not 
the sound of the postilions' horns given notice of the 
arrival of the visitors, who, as if on a concerted arrange- 
ment, drove into the castle-court from opposite sides at 
the same moment. Mittler slipped away as their host 
hastened to receive them, and desiring that his horse 
might be brought out immediately, rode angrily off. 


Elective Affinities 


THE visitors were welcomed and brought in. They 
were delighted to find themselves again in the same house 
and in the same rooms where in early times they had 
passed many happy days, but which they had not seen 
for a long time. Their friends too were very glad to see 
them. The Count and the Baroness had both those tall 
fine figures which please in middle life almost better 
than in youth. If something of the first bloom had faded 
off them, yet there was an air in their appearance which 
was always irresistibly attractive. Their manners too 
were thoroughly charming. Their free way of taking 
hold of life and dealing with it, their happy humor, and 
apparent easy unembarrassment, communicated itself at 
once to the rest ; and a lighter atmosphere hung about the 
whole party, without their having observed it stealing on 

The effect made itself felt immediately on the entrance 
of the newcomers. They were fresh from the fashionable 
world, as was to be seen at once, in their dress, in their 
equipment, and in everything about them; and they 
formed a contrast not a little striking with our friends, 
their country style, and the vehement feelings which were 


Elective Affinities 

at work underneath among them. This, however, very 
soon disappeared in the stream of past recollection and 
present interests, and a rapid, lively conversation soon 
united them all. After a short time they again separated. 
The ladies withdrew to their own apartments, and there 
found amusement enough in the many things which they 
had to tell each other, and in setting to work at the same 
time to examine the new fashions, the spring dresses, 
bonnets, and such like ; while the gentlemen were employ- 
ing themselves looking at the new traveling chariots, trot- 
ting out the horses, and beginning at once to bargain and 

They did not meet again till dinner; in the meantime 
they had changed their dress. And here, too, the newly 
arrived pair showed to all advantage. Everything they 
wore was new, and in a style which their friends at the 
castle had never seen, and yet, being accustomed to it 
themselves, it appeared perfectly natural and graceful. 

The conversation was brilliant and well sustained, as, 
indeed, in the company of such persons everything and 
nothing appears to interest. They spoke in French that 
the attendants might not understand what they said, and 
swept in happiest humor over all that was. passing in the 
great or the middle world. On one particular subject 
they remained, however, longer than was desirable. It 
was occasioned by Charlotte asking after one of her early 
"friends, of whom she had to learn, with some distress, 
that she was on the point of being separated from her 


Elective Affinities 

"It is a melancholy thing," Charlotte said, "when we 
fancy our absent friends are finally settled, when we be- 
lieve persons very dear to us to be provided for for life, 
suddenly to hear that their fortunes are cast loose once 
more, that they have to strike into a fresh path of life, 
and very likely a most insecure one." 

"Indeed, my dear friend," the Count answered, "it is 
our own fault if we allow ourselves to be surprised at 
such things. We please ourselves with imagining matters 
of this earth, and particularly matrimonial connections, 
as very enduring; and as concerns this last point, the 
plays which we see over and over again help to mislead 
us ; being, as they are, so untrue to the course of the world. 
In a comedy we see a marriage as the last aim of a desire 
which is hindered and crossed through a number of acts, 
and at the instant when it is reached the curtain falls, 
and the momentary satisfaction continues to ring on in 
our ears. But in the world it is very different. The play 
goes on still behind the scenes, and when the curtain rises 
again we may see and hear, perhaps, little enough of the 

"It can not be so very bad, however," said Charlotte, 
smiling. "We see people who have gone off the boards 
of the theatre ready enough to undertake a part upon 
them again." 

"There is nothing to say against that," said the Count. 
"In a new character a man may readily venture on a sec- 
ond trial; and when we know the world we see clearly 
that it is only this positive eternal duration of marriage 


Elective Affinities 

in a world where everything is in motion which has any- 
thing unbecoming about it. A certain friend of mine, 

whose humor displays itself principally in suggestions 
for new laws, maintained that every marriage should be _ 
concluded only for five years. Five, he said, was a sacred 
number pretty and uneven. Such a period would be 
long enough for people to learn one another's character, 
bring a child or two into the world, quarrel, separate, and, 
what was best, get reconciled again. He would often ex- 
claim, 'How happily the first part of the time would pass 
away!' Two or three years, at least, would be perfect 
bliss. On one side or other there would not fail to be a 
wish to have the relation continue longer, and the amia- 
bility would increase the nearer they got to the parting 
time. The indifferent, even the dissatisfied party, would 
be softened and gained over by such. behavior; they would 
forget, as in pleasant company the hours pass always un- 
observed, how the time went by, and they would be de- 
lightfully surprised when, after the term had run out, 
they first observed that they had unknowingly pro- 
longed it." 

Charming and pleasant as all this sounded, and deep 
(Charlotte felt it to her soul) as was the moral signifi- 
cance which lay below it, expressions of this kind, on | 
Ottilie's account, were most distasteful to her. She knew \ 
very well that nothing was more dangerous than the li- 
centious conversation which treats culpable or semi-cul- 
pable actions as if they were common, ordinary, and even 
laudable, and of such undesirable kind assuredly were all 


Elective Affinities 

which touched on the sacredness of marriage. She en- 
deavored, therefore, in her skilful way, to give the con- 
versation another turn, and when she found that she could 
not, it vexed her that Ottilie had managed everything so 
well that there was no occasion for her to leave the table. 
In her quiet observant way a nod or a look was enough 
for her to signify to the head servant whatever was to be 
done, and everything went off perfectly, although there 
were a couple of strange men in livery in the way, who 
were rather a trouble than a convenience. And so the 
Count, without feeling Charlotte's hints, went on giving 
his opinions on the same subject. Generally, he was little 
enough apt to be tedious in conversation; but this was 
a thing which weighed so heavily on his heart, and the 
difficulties which he found in getting separated from his 
wife were so great that it had made him bitter against 
everything which concerned the marriage bond that 
very bond which, notwithstanding, he was so anxiously 
desiring between himself and the Baroness. 

"The same friend," he went on, "has another law 
which he proposes. A marriage shall only be held indis- 
soluble when either both parties, or at least one or the 
other, enter into it for the third time. Such persons must 
be supposed to acknowledge beyond a doubt that they 
find marriage indispensable for themselves; they have 
had opportunities of thoroughly knowing themselves ; of 
knowing how they conducted themselves in their earlier 
unions; whether they have any peculiarities of temper, 
which are a more frequent cause of separation than bad 


Elective Affinities 

dispositions. People would then observe one another 
more closely; they would pay as much attention to the 
married as to the unmarried, no pne being able to tell 
how things may turn out." 

"That would add no little to the interest of society," 
said Edward. "As things are now, when a man is mar- 
ried nobody cares any more either for his virtues or for 
\ his vices." 

"Under this arrangement," the Baroness struck in, 
laughing, "our good hosts have passed successfully over 
their two steps, and may make themselves ready for their , 

"Things have gone happily with them," said the Count. 
"In their case death has done with a good will what in 
others the consistorial courts do with a very bad one." 

"Let the dead rest," said Charlotte, with a half seri- 
ous look. 

"Why so," persevered the Count, "when we can re- 
member them with honor? They were generous enough 
to content themselves with less than their number of years 
for the sake of the larger good which they could leave 
behind them." 

"Alas! that in such cases," said the Baroness, with a 
suppressed sigh, "happiness is only bought with .the sacrj- 

f f e w. " '-^/ \ Vxt<v- >- 

nee of our fairest years. \^*->~* 


"Indeed, yes," answered the Count; "and it might \ 
drive us to despair, if it were not the same with every- ' 
thing in this world. Nothing goes as we hope. Children 
do not fulfil what they promise; young people very 

Elective Affinities 

dom; and if they keep their word, the world does not 
keep its word with them." 

Charlotte, who was delighted that the conversation had 
taken a turn at last, replied cheerfully : 

"Well, then, we must content ourselves with enjoying 
what good we are to have in fragments and pieces, as 
we can get it ; and the sooner we can accustom ourselves 
to this the better." 

"Certainly," the Count answered, "you two have had 
the enjoyment of very happy times. When I look back 
upon the years when you and Edward were the loveliest 
couple at the court, I see nothing now to be compared 
with those brilliant times, and such magnificent figures. 
When you two used to dance together, all eyes were 
turned upon you, fastened upon you, while you saw noth- 
ing but each other." 

"So much has changed since those days," said Char- 
lotte, "that we can listen to such pretty things about our- 
selves without our modesty being shocked at them." 

"I often privately found fault with Edward," said the 
Count, "for not being more firm. Those singular parents 
of his would certainly have given way at last; and ten 
fair years is no trifle to gain." 

"I must take Edward's part," struck in the Baroness. 
"Charlotte was not altogether without fault not alto- 
gether free from what we must call prudential consid- 
erations; and although she had a real, hearty love for 
Edward, and did in her secret soul intend to marry him, 
I can bear witness how sorely she often tried him; and 


Elective Affinities 

it was through this that he was at last unluckily pre- 
vailed upon to leave her and go abroad, and try to forget 

Edward bowed to the Baroness, and seemed grateful 
for her advocacy. 

"And then I must add this," she continued, "in excuse 
for Charlotte. The man who was at that time suing for 
her had for a long time given proofs of his constant at- 
tachment to her; and, when one came to know him well, 
was a far more lovable person than the rest of you may 
like to acknowledge." 

"My dear friend," the Count replied, a little pointedly, 
"confess, now, that he was not altogether indifferent to 
yourself, and that Charlotte had more to fear from you 
than from any other rival. I find it one of the highest 
traits in women that they continue so long in their regard 
for a man, and that absence of no duration will serve to 
disturb or remove it." 

"This fine feature men possess, perhaps, even more," 
answered the Baroness. "At any rate, I have observed 
with you, my dear Count, that no one has more influence 
over you than a lady to whom you were once attached. 
I have seen you take more trouble to do things when a 
certain person has asked you than the friend of this mo- 
ment would have obtained of you, if she had tried." 

"Such a charge as that one must bear the best way one 
can," replied the Count. "But as to what concerns Char- 
lotte's first husband, I could not endure him, because he 
parted so sweet a pair from one another a really pre- 


Elective Affinities 

destined pair, who, once brought together, have no reason 
to fear the five years, or be thinking of a second or third 

"We must try," Charlotte said, "to make up for what 
we then allowed to slip from us." 

"Ay, and you must keep to that," said the Count; 
"your first marriages," he continued, with some vehe- 
mence, "were exactly marriages of the true detestable 
sort. And, unhappily, marriages generally, even the best, 
have (forgive me for using a strong expression) some- 
thing awkward about them. They destroy the delicacy 
of the relation ; everything is made to rest on the broad 
certainty out of which one side or other, at least, is too 
apt to make their own advantage. It is all a matter of 
course; and they seem only to have got themselves tied 
together, that one or the other, or both, may go their 
own way the more easily." 

At this moment, Charlotte, who was determined once 
for all that she would put an end to the conversation, 
made a bold effort at turning it, and succeeded. It then 
became more general. She and her husband and the 
Captain were able to take a part in it. Even Ottilie had 
to give her opinion; and the dessert was enjoyed in the 
happiest humor. It was particularly beautiful, being 
composed almost entirely of the rich summer fruits in 
elegant baskets, with epergnes of lovely flowers arranged 
in exquisite taste. 

The new laying-out of the park came to be spoken of ; 
and immediately after dinner they went to look at what 


Elective Affinities 

was going on. Ottilie withdrew, under pretense of hav- 
ing household matters to look to ; in reality, it was to set 
to work again at the transcribing. The Count fell into 
conversation with the Captain, and Charlotte afterward 
joined them. When they were at the summit of the 
height, the Captain good-naturedly ran back to fetch the 
plan, and in his absence the Count said to Charlotte : 

"He is an exceedingly pleasing person. He is very 
well informed, and his knowledge is always ready. His 
practical power, too, seems methodical and vigorous. 
What he is doing here would be of great importance 
in some higher sphere." 

Charlotte listened to the Captain's praises with an in- 
ward delight. She collected herself, however, and com- 
posedly and clearly confirmed what the Count had said. 
But she was not a little startled when he continued : 

"This acquaintance falls most opportunely for me. I 
know of a situation for which he is perfectly suited, and 
I shall be doing the greatest favor to a friend of mine, a 
man of high rank, by recommending to him a person who 
is so exactly everything which he desires." 

Charlotte felt as if a thunderstroke had fallen on her. 
The Count did not observe it : women, being accustomed 
at all times to hold themselves in restraint, are always 
able, even in the most extraordinary cases, to maintain 
an apparent composure; but she heard not a word more 
of what the Count said, though he went on speaking. 

"When I have made up my mind upon a thing," he 
added, "I am quick about it. I have put my letter to- 

Elective Affinities 

gether already in my head, and I shall write it immedi- 
ately. You can find me some messenger who can ride 
off with it this evening." 


Charlotte was suffering agonies. Startled with the 
proposal, and shocked at herself, she was unable to utter 
a word. Happily, the Count continued talking of his 
plans for the Captain, the desirableness of which was only 
too apparent to Charlotte. 

It was time that the Captain returned. He came up 
and unrolled his design before the Count. But with what 
changed eyes Charlotte now looked at the friend whom 
she was to lose. In her necessity, she bowed and turned 
away, and hurried down to the summer-house. Before 
she was half-way there, the tears were streaming from 
her eyes, and she flung herself into the narrow room in 
the little hermitage, and gave herself up to an agony, a 
passion, a despair, of the possibility of which, but a few 
moments before, she had not had the slightest con- 

Edward had gone with the Baroness in the other direc- 
tion toward the ponds. This ready-witted lady, who liked 
to be in the secret about everything, soon observed, in a 
few conversational feelers which she threw out, that Ed- 
ward was very fluent and free-spoken in praise of Ottilie. 
She contrived in the most natural way to lead him out by 
degrees so completely that at last she had not a doubt re- 
maining that here was not merely an incipient fancy, but 
a veritable, full-grown passion. 

Married women, if they have no particular love for 


Elective Affinities 

one another, yet are silently in league together, espe- 
cially against young girls. The consequences of such an 
inclination presented themselves only too quickly to her 
world-experienced spirit. Added to this, she had been 
already, in the course of the day, talking to Charlotte 
about Ottilie; she had disapproved of her remaining in 
the country, particularly being a girl of so retiring a char- 
acter; and she had proposed to take Ottilie with her to 
the residence of a friend, who was just then bestowing 
great expense on the education of an only daughter, and 
who was only looking about to find some well-disposed 
companion for her to put her in the place of a second 
child, and let her share in every advantage. Charlotte 
had taken time to consider. But now this glimpse of the 
Baroness into Edward's heart changed what had been but 
a suggestion at once into a settled determination ; and the 
more rapidly she made up her mind about it, the more 
she outwardly seemed to flatter Edward's wishes. Never 
was there any one more self-possessed than this lady ; and 
to have mastered ourselves in extraordinary cases dis- 
poses us to treat even a common case with dissimulation 
it makes us inclined, as we have had to do so much vio- 
lence to ourselves, to extend our control over others, and 
hold ourselves in a degree compensated in what we out- 
wardly gain for what we inwardly have been obliged to 
sacrifice. To this feeling there is often joined a kind of 
secret, spiteful pleasure in the blind, unconscious igno- 
rance with which the victim walks on into the snare. It 
is not the immediately doing as we please which we enjoy, 


Elective Affinities 

but the thought of the surprise and exposure which is to 
follow. And thus was the Baroness malicious enough to 
invite Edward to come with Charlotte and pay her a visit 
at the grape-gathering ; and, to his question whether they 
might bring Ottilie with them, to frame an answer which, 
if he pleased, he might interpret to his wishes. 

Edward had already begun to pour out his delight at 
the beautiful scenery, the broad river, the hills, the rocks, 
the vineyard, the old castles, the water-parties, and the 
jubilee at the grape-gathering, the wine-pressing, etc., in 
all of which, in the innocence of his heart, he was only 
exuberating in the anticipation of the impression which 
these scenes were to make on the fresh spirit of Ottilie. 
At this moment they saw her approaching, and the Baron- 
ess said quickly to Edward that he had better say nothing 
to her of this intended autumn expedition things which 
we set our hearts upon so long before so often failing to 
come to pass. Edward ga've his promise ; but he obliged 
his companion to move more quickly to meet her ; and at 
last, when they came very close, he ran on several steps 
in advance. A heartfelt happiness expressed itself in his 
whole being. He kissed her hand as he pressed into it a 
nosegay of wild flowers which he had gathered on his 

The Baroness felt bitter to her heart at the sight of it. 
At the same time that she was able to disapprove of what 
was really objectionable in this affection, she could not 
bear to see what was sweet and beautiful in it thrown 
away on such a poor paltry girl. 


Elective Affinities 

When they had collected again at the supper-table, an 
entirely different temper was spread over the party. The 
Count, who had in the meantime written his letter and 
despatched a messenger with it, occupied himself with the 
Captain, whom he had been drawing out more and more 
spending the whole evening at his side, talking of seri- 
ous matters. The Baroness, who sat on the Count's right, 
found but small amusement in this, nor did Edward find 
any more. The latter, first because he was thirsty, and 
then because he was excited^ did not spare the wine, and 
attached himself entirely to Ottilie, whom he had made 
sit by him. On the other side, next to the Captain, sat 
Charlotte ; for her it was hard, it was almost impossible, 
to conceal the emotion under which she was suffering. 

The Baroness had sufficient time to make her observa- 
tions at leisure. She perceived Charlotte's uneasiness, and 
occupied as she was with Edward's passion for Ottilie, 
she easily satisfied herself that her abstraction and distress 
were owing to her husband's behavior; and she set her- 
self to consider in what way she could best compass her 

Supper was over, and the party remained divided. The 
Count, whose object was to probe the Captain to the bot- 
tom, had to try many turns before he could arrive at what 
he wished with so quiet, so little vain, but so exceedingly 
laconic a person. They walked up and down together on 
one side of the saloon, while Edward, excited with wine 
and hope, was laughing with Ottilie at a window, and 
Charlotte and the Baroness were walking backward and 


(A)-<5 VOL. 2 

Elective Affinities 

forward, without speaking, on the other side. Their 
being so silent, and their standing about in this uneasy, 
listless way, had its effect at last in breaking up the rest 
of the party. The ladies withdrew to their rooms, the 
gentlemen to the other wing of the castle; and so this 
day appeared to be concluded. 


Elective Affinities 


EDWARD went with the Count to his room. They con- 
tinued talking, and he was easily prevailed upon to stay a 
little time longer there. The Count lost himself in old 
times, spoke eagerly of Charlotte's beauty, which, as a 
critic, he dwelt upon with much warmth. 

"A pretty foot is a great gift of nature," he said. "It 
is a grace which never perishes. I observed it to-day, as 
she was walking. I should almost have liked to have 
kissed her shoe, and repeat that somewhat barbarous but 
significant practise of the Sarmatians, who know no bet- 
ter way of showing reverence for any one they love or 
respect than by using his shoe to drink his health out of." 

The point of the foot did not remain the only subject of 
praise between the two old acquaintances ; they went from 
the person back upon old stories and adventures, and 
came on the hindrances which at that time people had 
thrown in the way of the lovers' meetings what trouble 
they had taken, what arts they had been obliged to devise, 
only to be able to tell each other that they loved. 

"Do you remember/' continued the Count, "an adven- 
ture in which I most unselfishly stood your friend when 
their High Mightinesses were on a visit to your uncle, 


Elective Affinities 

and were all together in that great, straggling castle? 
The day went in festivities and glitter of all sorts; and 
a part of the night at least in pleasant conversation." 

"And you, in the meantime, had observed the back- 
way which led to the court ladies' quarter," said Ed- 
ward, "and so managed to effect an interview for me with 
my beloved." 

"And she," replied the Count, "thinking more of pro- 
priety than of my enjoyment, had kept a frightful old 
duenna with her. So that, while you two, between looks 
and words, got on extremely well together, my lot, in 
the meanwhile, was far from pleasant." 

"It was only yesterday," answered Edward, "when we 
heard that you were coming, that I was talking over the 
story with my wife, and describing our adventure on 
returning. We missed the road, and got into the en- 
trance-hall from the garden. Knowing our way from 
thence so well as we did, we supposed we could get along 
easily enough. But you remember our surprise on open- 
ing the door. The floor was covered over with mattresses, 
on which the giants lay in rows stretched out and sleep- 
ing. The single sentinel at his post looked wonderingly 
at us ; but we, in the cool way young men do things, strode 
quietly on over the outstretched boots, without disturbing 
a single one of the snoring children of Anak." 

"I had the strongest inclination to stumble," the Count 
said, "that there might be an alarm given. What a resur- 
rection we should have witnessed." 

At this moment the castle clock struck twelve. 


Elective Affinities 

"It is deep midnight," the Count added, laughing, "and 
just the proper time; I must ask you, my dear Baron, to 
show me a kindness. Do you guide me to-night, as I 
guided you then. I promised the Baroness that I would,' 
see her before going to bed. We have had no opportu- 
nity of any private talk together the whole day. We 
have not seen each other for a long time, and it is only 
natural that we should wish for a confidential hour. If 
you will show me the way there, I will manage to get 
back again; and in any case, there will be no boots for 
me to stumble over." 

"I shall be very glad to show you such a piece of hos- 
pitality," answered Edward ; "only the three* ladies are 
together in the same wing. Who knows whether we shall 
not find them still with one another, or make some other 
mistake, which may have a strange appearance ?" 

"Do not be afraid," said the Count ; "the Baroness ex- 
pects me. She is sure by this time to be in her own room, 
and alone." 

"Well, then, the thing is easy enough," Edward an- 

He took a candle, and lighted the Count down a private 
staircase leading into a long gallery. At the end of this 
he opened a small door. They mounted a winding flight 
of stairs, which brought them out upon a narrow landing- 
place; and then, putting the candle in the Count's hand, 
he pointed to a tapestried door on the right, which opened 
readily at the first trial, and admitted the Count, leaving 
Edward outside in the dark. 


Elective Affinities 

Another door on the left led into Charlotte's sleeping- 
room. He heard her voice, and listened. She was speak- 
ing to her maid. "Is Ottilie in bed?" she asked. "No," 
was the answer; "she is sitting writing in the room be- 
low." "You may light the night-lamp," said Charlotte; 
"I shall not want you any more. It is late. I can put 
out the candle, and do whatever I may want else myself." 

It was a delight to Edward to hear that Ottilie was 
I writing still. She is working for me, he thought trium- 
phantly. Through the darkness, he fancied he could see 
her sitting all alone at her desk. He thought he would 
go to her, and see her ; and how she would turn to receive 
him. He felt a longing, which he could not resist, to be 
near her once more. But, from where he was, there was 
no way to the apartments which she occupied. He now 
found himself immediately at his wife's door. A sin- 
gular change of feeling came over him. He tried the 
handle, but the bolts were shot. He knocked gently. 
Charlotte did not hear him. She was walking rapidly 
up and down in the large dressing-room adjoining. She 
was repeating over and over what, since the Count's un- 
expected proposal, she had often enough had to say to 
herself. The Captain seemed to stand before her. At 
home, and everywhere, he had become her all in all. And 
now he was to go; and it was all to be desolate again. 
She repeated whatever wise things one can say to one's 
self; she even anticipated, as people so often do, the 
wretched comfort that time would come at last to her 
relief ; and then she cursed the time which would have to 


Elective Affinities 

pass before it could lighten her sufferings she cursed 
the dead, cold time when they would be lightened. At 
last she burst into tears; they were the more welcome, 
since tears with her were rare. She flung herself on the 
sofa, and gave herself up unreservedly to her sufferings. 
Edward, meanwhile, could not take himself from the 
door. He knocked again; and a third time rather 
louder; so that Charlotte, in the stillness of the night, 
distinctly heard it, and started up in fright. Her first 
thought was it can only be, it must be, the Captain; 
her second, that it was impossible. She thought she 
must have been deceived. But surely she had heard it; 
and she wished, and she feared to have heard it. She 
went into her sleeping-room, and walked lightly up to the 
bolted tapestry-door. She blamed herself for her fears. 
"Possibly it may be the Baroness wanting something," 
she said to herself ; and she called out quietly and calmly, 
"Is anybody there?" A light voice answered, "It is I." 
"Who?" returned Charlotte, not being able to make out 
the voice. She thought she saw the Captain's figure 
standing at the door. In a rather louder tone, she heard 
the word "Edward!" She drew back the bolt, and her 
husband stood before her. He greeted her with some 
light jest. She was unable to reply in the same tone. He 
complicated the mysterious visit by his mysterious ex- 
planation of it. 

"Well, then," he said at last, "I will confess, the real 
reason why I am come is that I have made a vow to kiss 
your shoe this evening." 

Elective Affinities 

"It is long since you thought of such a thing as that," 
said Charlotte. 

"So much the worse," he answered ; "and so much the 

She had thrown herself back in an armchair, to pre- 
vent him from seeing the slightness of her dress. He 
flung himself down before her, and she could not pre- 
vent him from giving her shoe a kiss. And when the shoe 
came off in his hand, he caught her foot and pressed it 
tenderly against his breast. 

Charlotte was one of those women who, being of a 
naturally calm temperament, continue in marriage, with- 
out any purpose or any effort, the air and character of 
lovers. She was never expressive toward her husband ; 
generally, indeed, sHe rather shrank from any warm dem- 
onstration on his part. It was not that she was cold, or at 
all hard and repulsive, but she remained always like a lov- 
ing bride, who draws back with a kind of shyness even 
from what is permitted. And so Edward found her this 
evening, in a double sense. How sorely did she not long 
that her husband would go ; the figure of his friend seemed 

(to hover in the air and reproach her. But what should 
have had the effect of driving Edward away only at- 
tracted him the more. There were visible traces of emo- 
tion about her. She had been crying; and tears, which 
with weak persons detract from their graces, add immeas- 
urably to the attractiveness of those whom we know com- 
monly as strong and self-possessed. 

Edward was so agreeable, so gentle, so pressing; he 


Elective Affinities 

begged to be allowed to stay with her. He did not de- 
mand it, but half in fun, half in earnest, he tried to per- 
suade her ; he never thought of his rights. At last, as if 
in mischief, he blew out the candle. 

In the dim lamplight, the inward affection, the imagi- 
nation, maintained their rights over the real; it was 
Ottilie that was resting in Edward's arms ; and the Capr 
tain, now faintly, now clearly, hovered before Charlotte's 
soul. And so, strangely intermingled, the absent and the 
present flowed in a sweet enchantment one into the other. 

And yet the present would not let itself be robbed of 
its own unlovely right. They spent a part of the night 
talking and laughing at all sorts of things, the more 
freely, as the heart had no part in it. But when Edward 
awoke in the morning, on his wife's breast, the day 
seemed to stare in with a sad, awful look, and the sun 
to be shining in upon a crime. He stole lightly from her 
side ; and she found herself, with strange enough feelings, 
when she awoke, alone. 


Elective Affinities 


WHEN the party assembled again at breakfast, an 
attentive observer might have read in the behavior of 
its various members the different things which were 
passing in their inner thoughts and feelings. The Count 
and the Baroness met with the air of happiness which a 
pair of lovers feel, who, after having been forced to en- 
dure a long separation, have mutually assured each other 
of their unaltered affection. On the other hand, Charlotte 
and Edward equally came into the presence of the Cap- 
tain and Ottilie with a sense of shame and remorse. For 
such is the nature of love that it believes in no rights ex- 
cept its own, and all other rights vanish away before it. 
Ottilie was in childlike spirits. For her she was almost 
what might be called open. The Captain appeared seri- 
ous. His conversation with the Count, which had roused 
in him feelings that for some time past had been at rest 
and dormant, had made him only too keenly conscious 
that here he was not fulfilling his work, and at bottom 
was but squandering himself in a half-activity of idle- 

Hardly had their guests departed, when fresh visitors 
were announced to Charlotte most welcomely, all she 


Elective Affinities 

wished for being to be taken out of herself, and to have 
her attention dissipated. They annoyed Edward, who 
was longing to devote himself to Ottilie ; and Ottilie did 
not like them either; the copy which had to be finished 
the next morning early being still incomplete. They 
stayed a long time, and immediately that they were gone 
she hurried off to her room. 

It was now evening. Edward, Charlotte, and the 
Captain had accompanied the strangers some little way 
on foot before the latter got into their carriage, and pre- 
vious to returning home they agreed to take a walk along 
the waterside. 

A boat had come, which Edward had had fetched from 
a distance, at no little expense; and they decided that 
they would try whether it was easy to manage. It was 
made fast on the bank of the middle pond, not far from 
some old ash trees, on which they calculated to make an 
effect in their future improvements. There was to be a 
landing-place made there, and under the trees a seat was 
to be raised, with some wonderful architecture about it : 
it was to be the point for which people were to make 
when they went across the water. 

"And where had we better have the landing-place on 
the other side?" said Edward. "I should think under 
my plane trees." 

"They stand a little too far to the right," said the 
Captain. "You are nearer the castle if you land further 
down. However, we must think about it." 

The Captain was already standing in the stern of the 

Elective Affinities 

boat, and had taken up an oar. Charlotte got in, and 
Edward with her he took the other oar; but as he was 
on the point of pushing off, he thought of Ottilie 
he recollected that this water-party would keep him out 
late ; who could tell when he would get back ? He made 
up his mind shortly and promptly; sprang back to the 

= bank, and reaching the other oar to the Captain, hurried 
home making excuses to himself as he ran. 

Arriving there, he learned that Ottilie had shut herself 
up she was writing. In spite of the agreeable feeling 
that she was 'doing something for him, it was the keen- 
est mortification to him not to be able to see her. His 
impatience increased every moment. He walked up and 
down the large drawing-room; he tried a thousand 
things, and could not fix his attention upon any. He 
was longing to see her alone before Charlotte came back 
with the Captain. It was dark by this time, and the 
candles were lighted. 

i At last she came in beaming with loveliness: the 

sense that she had done something for her friend had 

lifted all her being above herself. She put down the 

original and her transcript on the table before Edward. 

"Shall we collate them?" she said, with a smile. 

Edward did not know what to answer. He looked at 

1 her he looked at the transcript. The first few sheets 
were written with the greatest carefulness in a delicate 
woman's hand then the strokes appeared to alter, to 
become more light and free but who can describe his 
surprise as he ran his eyes over the concluding page? 


Elective Affinities 

"For heaven's sake," he cried, "what is this? this is my 
hand!" He looked at Ottilie, and again at the paper; 
the conclusion, especially, was exactly as if he had written 
it himself. Ottilie said nothing, but she looked at him 
with her eyes full of the warmest delight. Edward 
stretched out his arms. "You love me !" he cried : "Ot- 
tilie, you love me !" They fell on each other's breast 
which had been the first to catch the other it would have 
been impossible to distinguish. 

From that moment the world was all changed for 
Edward. He was no longer what he had been, and the 
world was no longer what it had been. They parted 
he held her hands ; they gazed in each other's eyes. They 
were on the point of embracing each other again. 

Charlotte entered with the Captain. Edward inwardly 
smiled at their excuses for having stayed out so long. 
Oh! how far too soon you have returned, he said to 

They sat down to supper. They talked about the 
people who had been there that day. Edward, full of 
love and ecstasy, spoke well of every one always spar- 
ing, often approving. Charlotte, who was not altogether 
of his opinion, remarked this temper in him, and jested 
with him about it he who had always the sharpest thing 
to say on departed visitors, was this evening so gentle 
and tolerant. 

With fervor and heartfelt conviction,, Edward cried: 
"One has only to love a single creature with all one's 
heart, and the whole world at once looks lovely !" 


Elective Affinities 

Ottilie dropped her eyes on the ground, and Char- 
lotte looked straight before her. 

The Captain took up the word, and said: "It is the 
same with deep feelings of respect and reverence: we 
first learn to recognize what there is that is to be 
valued in the world, when we find occasion to entertain 
such sentiments toward a particular object." 

Charlotte made an excuse to retire early to her room, 
where she could give herself up to thinking over what had 
passed in the course of the evening between herself and 
the Captain. 

When Edward sprang on shore, and, pushing off the 
boat, had himself committed his wife and his friend to 
the uncertain element, Charlotte found herself face to 
face with the man on whose account she had been already 
secretly suffering so bitterly, sitting in the twilight before 
her, and sweeping along the boat with the sculls in easy 
motion. She felt a depth of sadness, very rare with her, 
weighing on her spirits. The undulating movement of 
the boat, the splash of the oars, the faint breeze play- 
ing over the watery mirror, the sighing of the reeds, the 
long flight of the birds, the fitful twinkling of the first 
stars there was something spectral about it all in the 
universal stillness. She fancied her friend was bear- 
ing her away to set her on some far-off shore, and 
leave her there alone; strange emotions were passing 
through her, and she could not give way to them and 

The Captain was describing to her the manner in 


Elective Affinities 

which, in his opinion, the improvements should be con- 
tinued. He praised the construction of the boat; it was 
so convenient, he said, because one person could so 
easily manage it with a pair of oars. She should her- 
self learn how to do this; there was often a delicious 
feeling in floating along alone upon the water, one's own 
ferryman and steersman. 

The parting which was impending sank on Charlotte's 
heart as he was speaking. Is he saying this on purpose? 
she thought to herself. Does he know it yet? Does he 
suspect it ? or is it only accident ; and is he unconsciously 
foretelling me my fate? 

A weary, impatient heaviness took hold of her; she 
begged him to make for land as soon as possible, and 
return with her to the castle. 

It was the first time that the Captain had been upon 
the water, and, though generally he had acquainted him- 
self with its depth, he did not know accurately the par- 
ticular spots. Dusk was coming on; he directed his 
course to a place where he thought it would be easy to 
get on shore, and from which he knew the footpath which 
led to the castle was not far distant. Charlotte, however, 
repeated her wish to get to land quickly, and the place 
which he thought of being at a short distance, he gave 
h: up, and exerting himself as much as he possibly could, 
made straight for the bank. Unhappily the water was 
shallow, and he ran aground some way off from it. From 
the rate at which he was going the boat was fixed fast, and 
all his efforts to move it were in vain. What was to be 


Elective Affinities 

done ? There was no alternative but to get into the water 
; and carry his companion ashore. 

It was done without difficulty or danger. He was 
strong enough not to totter with her, or give her any 
cause for anxiety ; but in her agitation she had thrown her 
arms about his neck. He held her fast, and pressed her 
to himself and at last laid her down upon a grassy bank, 
not without emotion and confusion . . . she still lay 
upon his neck ... he caught her up once more in his 
arms, and pressed a warm kiss upon her lips. The next 
moment he was at her feet: he took her hand, and held 
it to his mouth, and cried : 

"Charlotte, will you forgive me?" 

The kiss which he had ventured to give, and which 
she had all but returned to him, brought Charlotte to 
herself again she pressed his hand but she did not 
attempt to raise him up. She bent down over him, and 
laid her hand upon his shoulder, and said: 

"We can not now prevent this moment from forming 
an epoch in our lives; but it depends on us to bear our- 
selves in a manner which shall be worthy of us. You 
i must go away, my dear friend, and you are going. The 
Count has plans for you, to give you better prospects 
I am glad, and I am sorry. I did not mean to speak of 
it till it was certain ; but this moment obliges me to tell 
you my secret. . . . Since it does not depend on our- 
selves to alter our feelings, I can only forgive you, I 
can only forgive myself, if we have the courage to alter 
our situation." She raised him up, took his arm to sug- 


Elective Affinities 

port herself, and they walked back to the castle without 

But now she was standing in her own room, where 
she had to feel and to know that she was Edward's wife. 
Her strength and the various discipline in which through 
life she had trained herself, came to her assistance in the 
conflict. Accustomed as she had always been to look 
steadily into herself and to control herself, she did not 
now find it difficult, with an earnest effort, to come to 
the resolution which she desired. She could almost smile 
when she remembered the strange visit of the night be- 
fore. Suddenly she was seized with a wonderful in- 
stinctive feeling, a thrill of fearful delight which changed 
into holy hope and longing. She knelt earnestly down, 
and repeated the oath which she had taken to Edward 
before the altar. 

Friendship, affection, renunciation, floated in glad, 
happy images before her. She felt restored to health and 
to herself. A sweet weariness came over her. She lay 
down, and sank into a calm, quiet sleep. 


Elective Affinities 


EDWARD, on his part, was in a very different temper. 
So little he thought of sleeping that it did not once occur 
to him even to undress himself. A thousand times he 
kissed the transcript of the document, but it was the be- 
ginning of it, in Ottilie's childish, timid hand; the end 
he scarcely dared to kiss, for he thought it was his own 
hand which he saw. Oh, that it were another document ! 
he whispered to himself ; and, as it was, he felt it was the 
sweetest assurance that his highest wish would be ful- 
filled. Thus it remained in his hands, thus he continued 
to press it to his heart, although disfigured by a third 
name subscribed to it. The waning moon rose up over 
the wood. The warmth of the night drew Edward out 
into the free air. He wandered this way and that way; 
he was at once the most restless and the happiest of 
mortals. He strayed through the gardens they seemed 
too narrow for him ; he hurried out into the park, and it 
was too wide. He was drawn back toward the castle; 
he stood under Ottilie's window. He threw himself down 
,on the steps of the terrace below. "Walls and bolts," 

F" e said to himself, "may still divide us, but our hearts 
re not divided. If she were here before me, into my arms 


Elective Affinities 

she would fall, and I into hers; and what can one desire 
but that sweet certainty!" All was stillness round him; 
not a breath was moving so still it was that he could 
hear the unresting creatures underground at their work, 
to whom day or night are alike. He abandoned himself 
to his delicious dreams; at last he fell asleep, and did 
not wake till the sun with his royal beams was mounting 
up in the sky and scattering the early mists. 

He found himself the first person awake on his do- 
main. The laborers seemed to be staying away too long; 
they came; he thought they were too few, and the work 
set out for the day too slight for his desires. He inquired 
for more workmen ; they were promised, and in the course 
of the day they came. But these,, too, were not enough 
for him to carry his plans out as rapidly as he wished. 
To do the work gave him no pleasure any longer; it 
should all be done. And for whom? The paths should 
be graveled, that Ottilie might walk pleasantly upon 
them ; seats should be made at every spot and corner, that 
Ottilie might rest on them. The new park house was 
hurried forward. It should be finished for Ottilie's 
birthday. In all he thought and all he did, there was 
no more moderation. The sense of loving and of being 
loved urged him out into the unlimited. How changed 
was now to him the look of all the rooms, their furni- 
ture, and their decorations ! He did not feel as if he was 
in his own house any more. Ottilie's presence absorbed 
everything. He was utterly lost in her; no other thought 
ever rose before him; no conscience disturbed him; every 


Elective Affinities 

restraint which had been laid upon his nature burst loose. 
His whole being centred upon Ottilie. This impetuosity 
of passion did not escape the Captain, who longed, if he 
could, to prevent its evil consequences. All those plans 
which were now being hurried on with this immoderate 
speed, had been drawn out and calculated for a long, 
quiet, easy execution. The sale of the farm had been 
completed ; the first instalment had been paid. Charlotte, 
according to the arrangement, had taken possession of 
it. But the very first week after, she found it more than 
usually necessary to exercise patience and resolution, and 
to keep her eye on what was being done. In the present 
hasty style of proceeding, the money which had been set 
apart for the purpose would not go far. 

Much had been begun, and much yet remained to be 
done. How could the Captain leave Charlotte in such a 
situation? They consulted together, and agreed that it 
would be better that they themselves should hurry on the 
works, and for this purpose employ money which could 
be made good again at the period fixed for the discharge 
of the second instalment of what was to be paid for the 
farm. It could be done almost without loss. They would 
have a freer hand. Everything would progress simul- 
taneously. There were laborers enough at hand, and 
they could get more accomplished at once, and arrive 
swiftly and surely at their aim. Edward gladly gave his 
consent to a plan which so entirely coincided with his 
own views. 

During this time Charlotte persisted with all her heart 


Elective Affinities 

in what she had determined for herself, and her friend 
stood by her with a like purpose, manfully. This very 
circumstance, however, produced a greater intimacy be- 
tween them. They spoke openly to one another of Ed- 
ward's passion, and consulted what had better be done. 
Charlotte kept Ottilie more about herself, watching her 
narrowly; and the more she understood her own heart 
the deeper she was able to penetrate into the heart of the 
poor girl. She saw no help for it except in sending her 

It now appeared a happy thing to her that Luciana 
had gained such high honors at the school ; for her great- 
aunt, as soon as she heard of it, desired to take her en- 
tirely to herself, to keep her with her, and bring her out 
into the world. Ottilie could, therefore, return thither. 
The Captain would leave them well provided for, and 
everything would be as it had been a few months before ; 
indeed, in many respects better. Her own position in 
Edward's affection Charlotte thought she could soon 
recover; and she settled it all, and laid it all out before 
herself so sensibly that she only strengthened herself more 
completely in her delusion, as if it were possible for them 
to return within their old limits as if a bond which had 
been violently broken could again be joined together as 

In the meantime Edward felt very deeply the hin- 
drances which were thrown in his way. He soon ob- 
served that they were keeping him and Ottilie separate; 
that they made it difficult for him to speak with her alone, 


Elective Affinities 

or even to approach her, except in the presence of others. 
And while he was angry about this, he was angry at 
many things beside. If he caught an opportunity for a 
few hasty words with Ottilie, it was not only to assure 
her of his love, but to complain of his wife and of the 
Captain. He never felt that with his own irrational 
haste he was on the way to exhaust the cash-box. He 
found bitter fault with them, because in the execution of 
the work they were not keeping to the first agreement, 
and yet he had been himself a consenting party to the 
second; indeed, it was he who had occasioned it and 
made it necessary. 

Hatred is a partizan, but love is even more so. Ottilie 
also estranged herself from Charlotte and the Captain. 
As Edward was complaining one day to Ottilie of the 
latter, saying that he was not treating him like a friend, 
or, under the circumstances, acting quite uprightly, she 
answered unthinkingly: "I have once or twice had a 
painful feeling that he was not quite honest with you. 
I heard him say once to Charlotte, 'If Edward would 
but spare us that eternal flute of his! He can make 
nothing of it, and it is too disagreeable to listen to him.' 
You may imagine how it hurt me, when I like accom- 
panying you so much." 

She had scarcely uttered the words when her con- 
science whispered to her that she had much better have 
been silent. However, the thing was said. Edward's 
features worked violently. Never had anything stung 
him more. He was touched on his tenderest point. It 


Elective Affinities 

was his amusement; he followed it like a child. He 
never made the slightest pretensions; what gave him 
pleasure should be treated with forbearance by his friends. 
He never thought how intolerable it is for a third per- 
son to have his ears lacerated by an unsuccessful talent. 
He was indignant; he was hurt in a way which he could 
not forgive. He felt himself discharged from all obli- 

The necessity of being with Ottilie, of seeing her, 
whispering to her, exchanging his confidence with her, 
increased with every day. He determined to write to 
her, and ask her to carry on a secret correspondence 
with him. The strip of paper on which he had, lacon- 
ically enough, made his request, lay on his writing-table, 
and was swept off by a draft of wind as his valet 
entered to dress his hair. The latter was in the habit of 
trying the heat of the iron by picking up any scraps of 
paper which might be lying about. This time his hand 
fell on the billet; he twisted it up hastily, and it was 
burned. Edward observing the mistake, snatched it out 
of his hand. After the man was gone, he sat himself 
down to write it over again. The second time it would 
not run so readily off his pen. It gave him a little un- 
easiness; he hesitated, but he got over it. He squeezed 
the paper into Ottilie's hand the first moment he was 
able to approach her. Ottilie answered him immediately. 
He put the note unread in his waistcoat pocket, which, 
being made short in the fashion of the time, was shallow, 
and did not hold it as it ought. It worked out, and fell 


Elective Affinities 

without his observing it on the ground. Charlotte saw 
it, picked it up, and after giving a hasty glance at it, 
reached it to him. 

"Here is something in your handwriting," she said, 
"which you may be sorry to lose." 

He was confounded. Is she dissembling? he thought 
to himself. Does she know what is in the note, or is she 
deceived by the resemblance of the hand? He hoped, he 
believed the latter. He was warned doubly warned; 
but those strange accidents, through which a higher in- 
telligence seems to be speaking to us, his passion was 
not able to interpret. Rather, as he went further and 
further on, he felt the restraint under which his friend 
and his wife seemed to be holding him the more intol- 
erable. His pleasure in their society was gone. His 
heart was closed against them, and though he was 
obliged to endure their society, he could not succeed in 
rediscovering or in reanimating within his heart anything 
of his old affection for them. The silent reproaches 
which he was forced to make to himself about it were 
disagreeable to him. He tried to help himself with a 
kind of humor which, however, being without love, was 
also without its usual grace. 

Over all such trials Charlotte found assistance to rise 
in her own inward feelings. She knew her own deter- 
mination. Her own affection, fair and noble as it was, 
she would utterly renounce. 

And sorely she longed to go to the assistance of the 
other two. Separation, she knew well, would not alone 


Elective Affinities 

suffice to heal so deep a wound. She resolved that she 
would speak openly about it to Ottilie herself. But she 
could not do it. The recollection of her own weakness 
stood in her way. She thought she could talk generally 
to her about the sort of thing. But general expressions 
about "the sort of thing" fitted her own case equally well, 
and she could not bear to touch it. Every hint which 
she would give Ottilie recoiled back on her own heart. 
She would warn, and she was obliged to feel that she 
might herself still be in need of warning. 

She contented herself, therefore, with silently keeping 
the lovers more apart, and by this gained nothing. The 
slight hints which frequently escaped her had no effect 
upon Ottilie; for Ottilie had been assured by Edward 
that Charlotte was devoted to the Captain, that Charlotte 
herself wished for a separation, and that he was at this 
moment considering the readiest means by which it could 
be brought about. 

Ottilie, led by the sense of her own innocence along 
the road to the happiness for which she longed, only 
lived for Edward. Strengthened by her love for him in 
all good, more light and happy in her work for his sake, 
and more frank and open toward others, she found her- 
self in a heaven upon earth. 

So all together, each in his or her own fashion, reflect- 
ing or unreflecting, they continued on the routine of their 
lives. All seemed to go its ordinary way, as, in mon- 
strous cases, when everything is at stake, men will still 
live on, as if it were all nothing. 


(A) 7 VOL. 2 

Elective Affinities 


IN the meantime a letter came from the Count to the 
Captain two, indeed one which he might produce, 
holding out fair, excellent prospects in the distance; the 
other containing a distinct offer of an immediate situa- 
tion, a place of high importance and responsibility at the 
Court, his rank as Major, a very considerable salary, and 
other advantages. A number of circumstances, however, 
made it desirable that for the moment he should not 
speak of it, and consequently he only informed his friends 
of his distant expectations, and concealed what was so 
nearly impending. 

He went warmly on, at the same time, with his present 
occupation, and quietly made arrangements to secure the 
works being all continued without interruption after his 
departure. He was now himself desirous that as much as 
possible should be finished off at once, and was ready to 
hasten things forward to prepare for Ottilie's birthday. 
And so, though without having come to any express un- 
derstanding, the two friends worked side by side together. 
Edward was now well pleased that the cash-box was 
filled by their having taken up money. The whole affair 
went forward at fullest speed. 


Elective Affinities 

The Captain had done his best to oppose the plan of ) 
throwing the three ponds together into a single sheet of ( 
water. The lower embankment would have to be made \V 
much stronger, the two intermediate embankments to be ) 
taken away, and altogether, in more than one sense, it 
seemed a very questionable proceeding. However, both 
these schemes had been already undertaken; the soil 
which was removed above being carried at once down to 
where it was wanted. And here there came opportunely 
on the scene a young architect, an old pupil of the 
Captain, who partly by introducing workmen who under- 
stood work of this nature, and partly by himself, whenever 
it was possible, contracting for the work itself, advanced 
things not a little, while at the same time they could feel 
more confidence in their being securely and lastingly ex- 
ecuted. In secret this was a great pleasure to the Captain. 
He could now be confident that his absence would not be 
so severely felt. It was one of the points on which he was 
most resolute with himself, never to leave anything which 
he had taken in hand uncompleted, unless he could see his 
place satisfactorily supplied. And he could not but hold 
in small respect persons who introduce confusion around 
themselves only to make their absence felt, and are ready 
to disturb in wanton selfishness what they will not be at 
hand to restore. 

So they labored on, straining every nerve to make 
Ottilie's birthday splendid, without any open acknowl- 
edgment that this was what they were aiming at, or, 
indeed, without their directly acknowledging it to them- 


Elective Affinities 

selves. Charlotte, wholly free from jealousy as she was, 
could not think it right to keep it as a real festival. Ot- 
tilie's youth, the circumstances of her fortune, and her 
relationship to their family, were not at all such as made 
it fit that she should appear as the queen of the day ; and 
Edward would not have it talked about, because every- 
thing was to spring out, as it were, of itself, with a natu- 
ral and delightful surprise. 

They, therefore, came all of them to a sort of tacit un- 
derstanding that on this day, without further circum- 
stance, the new house in the park was to be opened, and 
they might take the occasion to invite the neighborhood 
and give a holiday to their own people. Edward's pas- 
sion, however, knew no bounds. Longing as he did to 
give himself to Ottilie, his presents and his promises must 
be infinite. The birthday gifts which on the great occa- 
sion he was to offer to her seemed, as Charlotte had ar- 
ranged them, far too insignificant. He spoke to his valet, 
who had the care of his wardrobe, and who consequently 
had extensive acquaintance among the tailors and mercers 
and fashionable milliners; and he, who not only under- 
stood himself what valuable presents were, but also 
the most graceful way in which they should be offered, 
immediately ordered an elegant box, covered with red 
morocco and studded with steel nails, to be filled with 
presents worthy of such a shell. Another thing, too, he 
suggested to Edward. Among the stores at the castle was 
a small show of fireworks which had never been let off. 
It would be easy to get some more, and have something 


Elective Affinities 

really fine. Edward caught the idea, and his servant 
promised to see to its being executed. This matter was 
to remain a secret. 

While this was going on, the Captain, as the day drew 
nearer, had been making arrangements for a body of po- 
lice to be present a precaution which he always thought 
desirable when large numbers of men were to be brought 
together. And, indeed, against beggars, and against all 
other inconveniences by which the pleasure of a festival 
can be disturbed, he had made effectual provision. 

Edward and his confidant, on the contrary, were mainly 
occupied with their fireworks. They were to be let off on 
the side of the middle water in front of the great ash- 
tree. The party were to be collected on the opposite side, 
under the planes, that at a sufficient distance from the 
scene, in ease and safety, they might see them to the best 
effect, with the reflections on the water, the water-rockets, 
and floating-lights, and all the other designs. 

Under some other pretext, Edward had the ground un- 
derneath the plane-trees cleared of bushes and grass and 
moss. And now first could be seen the beauty of their 
forms, together with their full height and spread, right 
up from the earth. He_w^S-dfiiiglite^jffiitli_yiem. It was 
just this very time of the year that he had planted them. 
How long ago could it have been? he said to himself. 
As soon as he got home, he turned over the old diary 
books, which his father, especially when in the country, 
was very careful in keeping. He might not find an entry 
of this particular planting, but another important domes- 


Elective Affinities 

tic matter, which Edward well remembered, and which 
had occurred on the same day, would surely be mentioned. 
He turned over a few volumes. The circumstance he was 
looking for was there. How amazed, how overjoyed he 
was, when he discovered the strangest coincidence ! The 
day and the year on which he had planted those trees was 
the very day, the very year, when Ottilie was born. 

Elective Affinities 


THE long-wished-for morning dawned at last on Ed- 
ward; and very soon a number of guests arrived. They 
had sent out a large number of invitations, and many 
who had missed the laying of the foundation-stone, which 
was reported to have been so charming, were the more 
careful not to be absent on the second festivity. 

Before dinner the carpenter's people appeared, with 
music, in the court of the castle. They bore an immense 
garland of flowers, composed of a number of single 
wreaths, winding in and out, one above the other; salut- 
ing the company, they made request, according to custom, 
for silk handkerchiefs and ribbons, at the hands of the 
fair sex, with which to dress themselves out. When the 
castle party went into the dining-hall, they marched off 
singing and shouting, and after amusing themselves a 
while in the village, and coaxing many a ribbon out of 
the women there, old and young, they came at last, with 
crowds behind them and crowds expecting them, out upon 
the height where the park-house was now standing. 
After dinner Charlotte rather held back her guests. She 
did not wish that there should be any solemn or formal 
procession, and they found their way in little parties, 

Elective Affinities 

broken up, as they pleased, without rule or order, to the 
scene of action. Charlotte stayed behind with Ottilie, and 
did not improve matters by doing so. For Ottilie being 
really the last that appeared, it seemed as if the trumpets 
and the clarinets had only been waiting for her, and as 
if the gaieties had been ordered to commence directly on 
her arrival. 

To take off the rough appearance of the house, it had 
been hung with green boughs and flowers. They had 
dressed it out in an architectural fashion, according to a 
design of the Captain's ; only that, without his knowledge, 
Edward had desired the architect to work in the date 
upon the cornice in flowers, and this was necessarily per- 
mitted to remain. The Captain had only arrived on the 
scene in time to prevent Ottilie' s name from figuring in 
splendor on the gable. The beginning, which had been 
made for this, he contrived to turn skilfully to some other 
use, and to get rid of such of the letters as had been 
already finished. 

The garland was set up, and was to be seen far and 
wide about the country. The flags and the ribbons flut- 
tered gaily in the air ; and a short oration was, the greater 
part of it, dispersed by the wind. The solemnity was at 
an end. There was now to be a dance on the smooth 
lawn in front of the building, which had been enclosed 
with boughs and branches. A gaily dressed working 
mason took Edward up to a smart-looking girl of the vil- 
lage, and called himself upon Ottilie, who stood out with 
him. These two couples speedily found others to follow 


Elective Affinities 

them, and Edward contrived pretty soon to change part- 
ners, catching Ottilie, and making the round with her. 
The younger part of the company joined merrily in the 
dance with the people, while the elder among them stood 
and looked on. 

Then, before they broke up and walked about, an order 
was given that they should all collect again at sunset 
under the plane-trees. Edward was the first upon the 
spot, ordering everything, and making his arrangements 
with his valet, who was to be on the other side, in com- 
pany with the firework-maker, managing his exhibition of 
the spectacle. 

The Captain was far from satisfied at some of the 
preparations which he saw made; and he endeavored to 
get a word with Edward about the crush of spectators 
which was to be expected. But the latter, somewhat 
hastily, begged that he might be allowed to manage this 
part of the day's amusements himself. 

The upper end of the embankment, having been re- 
cently raised, was still far from compact. It had been 
staked, but there was no grass upon it, and the earth was 
uneven and insecure. The crowd pressed on, however, 
in great numbers. The sun went down, and the castle 
party was served with refreshments under the plane-trees, 
to pass the time till it should have become sufficiently 
dark. The place was approved of beyond measure, and 
they looked forward to frequently enjoying the view over 
so lovely a sheet of water on future occasions. 

A calm evening, a perfect absence of wind, promised 


Elective Affinities 

everything in favor of the spectacle, when suddenly loud 
and violent shrieks were heard. Large masses of the 
earth had given way on the edge of the embankment, and 
a number of people were precipitated into the water. The 
pressure from the throng had gone on increasing till at 
last it had become more than the newly laid soil would 
bear, and the bank had fallen in. Everybody wanted to 
obtain the best place, and now there was no getting either 
backward or forward. 

People ran this and that way, more to see what was 
going on than to render assistance. What could be done 
when no one could reach the place ? 

The Captain, with a few determined persons, hurried 
down and drove the crowd off the embankment back upon 
the shore ; in order that those who were really of service 
might have free room to move. One way or another they 
contrived to seize hold of such as were sinking ; and with 
or without assistance all who had been in the water were 
got out safe upon the bank, with the exception of one boy, 
whose struggles in his fright, instead of bringing him 
nearer to the embankment, had only carried him further 
from it. His strength seemed to be failing now only a 
hand was seen above the surface, and now a foot. By an 
unlucky chance the boat was on the opposite shore filled 
with fireworks it was a long business to unload it, and 
help was slow in coming. The Captain's resolution was 
taken ; he flung off his coat ; all eyes were directed toward 
him, and his sturdy, vigorous figure gave every one hope 
and confidence : but a cry of surprise rose out of the crowd 


Elective Affinities 

as they saw him fling himself into the water every eye 
watched him as the strong swimmer swiftly reached the 
boy, and bore him, although to appearance dead, to the 

Now came up the boat. The Captain stepped in and 
examined whether there were any still missing, or whether 
they were all safe. The surgeon was speedily on the spot, 
and took charge of the inanimate boy. Charlotte joined 
them, and entreated the Captain to go now and take care 
of himself, to hurry back to the castle and change his 
clothes. He would not go, however, till persons on whose 
sense he could rely, who had been close to the spot at the 
time of the accident, and who had assisted in saving those 
who had fallen in, assured him that all were safe. 

Charlotte saw him on his way to the house, and then 
she remembered that the wine and the tea, and everything 
else which he could want, had been locked up, for fear 
any of the servants should take advantage of the disorder 
of the holiday, as on such occasions they are too apt to 
do. She hurried through the scattered groups of her com- 
pany, which were loitering about the plane-trees. Edward 
was there, talking to every one beseeching every one to* 
stay. He would give the signal directly, and the fire- 
works should begin. Charlotte went up to him, and en- 
treated him to put off an amusement which was no longer 
in place, and which at the present moment no one could 
enjoy. She reminded him of what ought to be done for 
the boy who had been saved, and for his preserver. 

"The surgeon will do whatever is right, no doubt," 


Elective Affinities 

replied Edward. "He is provided with everything which 
he can want, and we should only be in the way if we 
crowded about him with our anxieties." 

Charlotte persisted in her opinion, and made a sign to 
Ottilie, who at once prepared to retire with her. Edward 
seized her hand, and cried, "We will not end this day 
in a lazaretto. She is too good for a sister of mercy. 
Without us, I should think, the half-dead may wake, and 
the living dry themselves." 

Charlotte did not answer, but went. Some followed 
her others followed these : in the end, no one wished to 
be the last, and all followed. Edward and Ottilie found 
themselves alone under the plane-trees. He insisted that 
stay he would, earnestly, passionately, as she entreated 
him to go back with her to the castle. "No, Ottilie !" he 
cried; "the extraordinary is not brought to pass in the 
smooth, common way the wonderful accident of this 
evening brings us more speedily together. You are mine 
I have often said it to you, and sworn it to you. We 
will not say it and swear it any more we will make 
it BE." 

The boat came over from the other side. The valet 
was in it he asked, with some embarrassment, what his 
master wished to have done with the fireworks ? 

"Let them off!" Edward cried to him: "let them off! 
It was only for you that they were provided, Ottilie, 
and you shall be the only one to see them! Let me sit 
beside you, and enjoy them with you." Tenderly, tim- 
idly, he sat down at her side, without touching her. 


Elective Affinities 

Rockets went hissing up cannon thundered Roman 
candles shot out their blazing 1 balls squibs flashed and 
darted wheels spun round, first singly, then in pairs, 
then all at once, faster and faster, one after the other, 
and more and more together. Edward, whose bosom was 
on fire, watched the blazing spectacle with eyes gleaming 
with delight; but Ottilie, with her delicate and nervous 
feelings, in all this noise and fitful blazing and flashing, 
found more to distress her than to please. She leaned 
shrinking against Edward, and he, as she drew to him 
and clung to him, felt the delightful sense that she be- 
longed entirely to him. 

The night had scarcely reassumed its rights, when the 
moon rose and lighted their path as they walked back. A 
figure, with his hat in his hand, stepped across their way, 
and begged an alms of them: in the general holiday he 
said that he had been forgotten. The moon shone upon 
his face, and Edward recognized the features of the im- 
portunate beggar ; but, happy as he then was, it was impos- 
sible for him to be angry with any one. He could not 
recollect that, especially for that particular day, begging 
had been forbidden under the heaviest penalties he 
thrust his hand into his pocket, took the first coin which 
he found, and gave the fellow a piece of gold. His own 
happiness was so unbounded that he would have liked to 
have shared it with every one. 

In the meantime all had gone well at the castle. The 
skill of the surgeon, everything which was required being 
ready at hand, Charlotte's assistance all had worked to- 


Elective Affinities 

gather, and the boy was brought to life again. The guests 
dispersed, wishing to catch a glimpse or two of what was 
to be seen of the fireworks from the distance; and, after 
a scene of such confusion, were glad to get back to their 
own quiet homes. 

The Captain also, after having rapidly changed his 
dress, had taken an active part in what required to be 
done. It was now all quiet again, and he found himself 
alone with Charlotte gently and affectionately he now 
told her that his time for leaving them approached. She 
had gone through so much that evening that this dis- 
covery made but a slight impression upon her she had 
seen how her friend could sacrifice himself; how he had 
saved another, and had himself been saved. These 
strange incidents seemed to foretell an important future 
to her but not an unhappy one. 

Edward, who now entered with Ottilie, was informed at 
once of the impending departure of the Captain. He sus- 
pected that Charlotte had known longer how near it was ; 
but he was far too much occupied with himself, and with 
his own plans, to take it amiss, or care about it. 

On the contrary, he listened attentively, and with signs 
of pleasure, to the account of the excellent and honorable 
position in which the Captain was to be placed. The 
course of the future was hurried impetuously forward by 
his own secret wishes. Already he saw the Captain mar- 
ried to Charlotte, and himself married to Ottilie. It 
would have been the richest present which any one could 
have made him, on the occasion of the day's festival ! 


Elective Affinities 

But how surprised was Ottilie, when, on going to her 
room, she found upon the table the beautiful box! In- 
stantly she opened it ; inside, all the things were so nicely 
packed and arranged that she did not venture to take 
them out, she scarcely even ventured to lift them. There 
were muslin, cambric, silk, shawls and lace, all rivaling 
each other in delicacy, beauty, and costliness nor were 
ornaments forgotten. The intention had been, as she saw 
well, to furnish her with more than one complete suit of 
clothes; but it was all so costly, so little like what she 
had been accustomed to, that she scarcely dared, even in 
thought, to believe it could be really for her. 

Elective Affinities 


THE next morning the Captain had disappeared, hav- 
ing left a grateful, feeling letter addressed to his friends 
upon his table. He and Charlotte had already taken a 
half leave of each other the evening before she felt that 
the parting was forever, and she resigned herself to it; 
for in the Count's second letter, which the Captain had 
at last shown to her, there was a hint of a prospect of an 
advantageous marriage, and, although he had paid no 
attention to it at all, she accepted it for as good as certain, 
and gave him up firmly and fully. 

Now, therefore, she thought that she had a right to 
require of others the same control over themselves which 
she had exercised herself: it had not been impossible to 
her, and it ought not to be impossible to them. With this 
feeling she began the conversation with her husband ; and 
she entered upon it the more openly and easily, from a 
sense that the question must now, once for all, be de- 
cisively set at rest. 

"Our friend has left us," she said; "we are now once 
more together as we were and it depends upon our- 
selves whether we choose to return altogether into our 
old position." 

1 60 

Elective Affinities 

Edward, who heard nothing except what flattered his 
own passion, believed that Charlotte, in these words, was 
alluding to her previous widowed state, and, in a round- 
about way, was making a suggestion for a separation ; so 
that he answered, with a laugh, "Why not? all we want 
is to come to an understanding." But he found himself 
sorely enough undeceived, as Charlotte continued, "And 
we have now a choice of opportunities for placing Ottilie 
in another situation. Two openings have offered them- 
selves for her^ either of which will do very well. Either 
she can return to the school, as my daughter has left it 
and is with her great-aunt ; or she can be received into a 
desirable family, where, as the companion of an only 
child, she will enjoy all the advantages of a solid edu- 

Edward, with a tolerably successful effort at command- 
ing himself, replied, "Ottilie has been so much spoiled, 
by living so long with us here, that she will scarcely like 
to leave us now." 

"We have all of us been too much spoiled," said Char- 
lotte; "and yourself not least. This is an epoch which 
requires us seriously to bethink ourselves. It is a solemn 
warning to us to consider what is really for the good of 
all the members of our little circle and we ourselves 
must not be afraid of making sacrifices." 

"At any rate I can not see that it is right that Ottilie 
should be made a sacrifice," replied Edward; "and that 
would be the case if we were now to allow her to be sent 
away among strangers. The Captain's good genius has 


Elective Affinities 

sought him out here we can feel easy, we can feel 
happy at seeing him leave us ; but who can tell what may 
be before Ottilie? There is no occasion for haste." 

"What is before us is sufficiently clear," Charlotte an- 
swered, with some emotion; and as she determined to 
have it all out at once, she went on: "You love Ottilie; 
every day you are becoming more attached to her. A 
reciprocal feeling is rising on her side as well, and feed- 
ing itself in the same way. Why should we not ac- 
knowledge in words what every hour makes obvious? 
and are we not to have the common prudence to ask our- 
selves in what it is to end?" 

"We may not be able to find an answer on the mo- 
ment," replied Edward, collecting himself; "but so much 
may be said, that if we can not exactly tell what will 
come of it, we may resign ourselves to wait and see what 
the future may tell us about it." 

"No great wisdom is required to prophesy here," an- 
swered Charlotte; "and, at any rate, we ought to feel 
that you and I are past the age when people may walk 
blindly where they should not or ought not to go. There 
is no one else to take care of us we must be our own 
friends, our own managers. No one expects us to com- 
mit ourselves in an outrage upon decency ; no one expects 
that we are going to expose ourselves to censure or to 

"How can you so mistake me?" said Edward, unable 
to reply to his wife's clear, open words. "Can you find 
it a fault in me if I am anxious about Ottilie's happi- 


Elective Affinities 

ness? I do not mean future happiness no one can 
count on that but what is present, palpable, and imme- 
diate. Consider, don't deceive yourself; consider frankly 
Ottilie's case, torn away from us, and sent to live among 
strangers. I, at least, am not cruel enough to propose 
such a change for her!" 

Charlotte saw too clearly into her husband's inten- 
tions through this disguise. For the first time she felt 
how far he had estranged himself from her. Her voice 
shook a little "Will Ottilie be happy if she divides us?" 
she said. "If she deprives me of a husband, and his 
children of a father!" 

"Our children, I should have thought, were sufficiently 
provided for," said Edward, with a cold smile; adding, 
rather more kindly, "but why at once expect the very 
worst ?" 

"The very worst is too sure to follow this passion of 
yours," returned Charlotte; "do not refuse good advice 
while there is yet time; do not throw away the means 
which I propose to save us. In troubled cases those must 
work and help who see the clearest this time it is I. 
Dear, dearest Edward ! listen to me can you propose to 
me that now at once I shall renounce my happiness! re- 
nounce my fairest rights! renounce you!" 

"Who says that?" replied Edward, with some embar- 

"You, yourself," answered Charlotte; "in determin- 
ing to keep Ottilie here, are you not acknowledging 
everything which must arise out of it? I will urge noth- 


Elective Affinities 

ing on you but if you can not conquer yourself, at least 
you will not be able much longer to deceive yourself." 

Edward felt how right she was. It is fearful to hear 
spoken out, in words, what the heart has gone on long 
permitting to itself in secret. To escape only for a mo- 
ment, Edward answered, "It is not yet clear to me what 
you want." 

"My intention," she replied, "was to talk over with 
you these two proposals each of them has its advan- 
tages. The school would be best suited to her, as she 
now is; but the other situation is larger, and wider, and 
promises more, when I think what she may become." 
She then detailed to her husband circumstantially what 
would lie before Ottilie in each position, and concluded 
with the words, "For my own part I should prefer the 
lady's house to the school, for more reasons than one; 
but particularly because I should not like the affection, the 
love indeed, of the young man there, which Ottilie has 
gained, to increase." 

Edward appeared to approve; but it was only to find 
some means of delay. Charlotte, who desired to commit 
him to a definite step, seized the opportunity, as Edward 
made no immediate opposition, to settle Ottilie's depart- 
ure, for which she had already privately made all prep- 
arations for the next day. 

Edward shuddered he thought he was betrayed. His 
wife's affectionate speech he fancied was an artfully con- 
trived trick to separate him forever from his happiness. 
He appeared to leave the thing entirely to her ; but in his 


Elective Affinities 

heart his resolution was already taken. To gain time to 
breathe, to put off the immediate intolerable misery of 
Ottilie's being sent away, he determined to leave his 
house. He told Charlotte he was going; but he had 
blinded her to his real reason, by telling her that he 
would not be present at Ottilie's departure; indeed, that, 
from that moment, he would see her no more. Charlotte, 
who believed that she had gained her point, approved 
most cordially. He ordered his horse, gave his valet the 
necessary directions what to pack up, and where he 
should follow him; and then, on the point of departure, 
he sat down and wrote: 


"The misfortune, my love, which has befallen us, may 
or may not admit of remedy ; only this I feel, that if I am 
not at once to be driven to despair, I must find some 
means of delay for myself, and for all of us. In making 
myself the sacrifice, I have a right to make a request. I 
am leaving my home, and I only return to it under hap- 
pier and more peaceful auspices. While I am away, you 
keep possession of it but with Ottiliv. I choose to know 
that she is with you, and not among strangers. Take 
care of her ; treat her as you have treated her only more 
lovingly, more kindly, more tenderly! I promise that I 
will not attempt any secret intercourse with her. Leave 
me, as long a time as you please, without knowing any- 
thing about you. I will not allow myself to be anxious 
nor need you be uneasy about me; only, with all my 


Elective Affinities 

heart and soul, I beseech you make no attempt to send 
Ottilie away, or to introduce her into any other situation. 
Beyond the circle of the castle and the park, placed in the 
hands of strangers, she belongs to me, and I will take 
possession of her ! If you have any regard for my affec- 
tion, for my wishes, for my sufferings, you will leave me 
alone to my madness ; and if any hope of recovery from 
it should ever hereafter offer itself to me, I will not 

This last sentence ran off his pen not out of his 
heart. Even when he saw it upon the paper, he began 
bitterly to weep. That he, under any circumstances, 
should renounce the happiness even the wretchedness 
of loving Ottilie! He only now began to feel what he 
was doing he was going away without knowing what 
was to be the result. At any rate he was not to see her 
again now with what certainty could he promise him- 
self that he would ever see her again? But the letter 
was written the horses were at the door ; every moment 
he was afraid he might see Ottilie somewhere, and then 
his whole purpose would go to the winds. He collected 
himself he remembered that, at any rate, he would be 
able to return at any moment he pleased ; and that, by his 
absence he would have advanced nearer to his wishes ; on 
the other side, he pictured Ottilie to himself forced to 
leave the house if he stayed. He sealed the letter, ran 
down the steps, and sprang upon his horse. 

As he rode past the hotel he saw the beggar to whom 
he had given so much money the night before sitting 


Elective Affinities 

under the trees; the man was busy enjoying his dinner, 
and, as Edward passed, stood up, and made him the hum- 
blest obeisance. That figure had appeared to him yes- 
terday when Ottilie was on his arm; now it only served 
as a bitter reminiscence of the happiest hour of his life. 
His grief redoubled. The feeling of what he was leaving 
behind was intolerable. He looked again at the beggar. 
"Happy wretch!" he cried, "you can still feed upon the 
alms of yesterday and I can not any more on the hap- 
piness of yesterday !" 


Elective Affinities 


OTTILIE heard some one ride away, and went to the 
window in time just to catch a sight of Edward's back. 
It was strange, she thought, that he should have left the 
house without seeing her, without having even wished 
her good-morning. She grew uncomfortable, and her 
anxiety did not diminish when Charlotte took her out for 
a long walk, and talked of various other things; but not 
once, and apparently on purpose, mentioning her hus- 
band. When they returned she found the table laid only 
with two covers. 

It is unpleasant to miss even the most trifling thing to 
which we have been accustomed. In serious things such 
a loss becomes miserably painful. Edward and the Cap- 
tain were not there. The first time, for a long while, 
Charlotte sat at the head of the table herself and it 
seemed to Ottilie as if she was deposed. The two ladies 
sat opposite each other; Charlotte talked, without the 
least embarrassment, of the Captain and his appointment, 
and of the little hope there was of seeing him again for 
a long time. The only comfort Ottilie could find for 
herself was in the idea that Edward had ridden after his 
friend, to accompany him a part of his journey. 


Elective Affinities 

On rising from table, however, they saw Edward's 
traveling carriage under the window. Charlotte, a little as 
if she was put out, asked who had had it brought round 
there. She was told it was the valet, who had some 
things there to pack up. It required all Ottilie's self- 
command to conceal her wonder and her distress. 

The valet came in, and asked if they would be so good 
as to let him have a drinking-cup of his master's, a pair 
of silver spoons, and a number of other things, which 
seemed to Ottilie to imply that he was gone some dis- 
tance, and would be away for a long time. 

Charlotte gave him a very cold, dry answer. She did 
not know what he meant he had everything belonging 
to his master under his own care. What the man wanted 
was to speak a word to Ottilie, and on some pretense or 
other to get her out of the room; he made some clever 
excuse, and persisted in his request so far that Ottilie 
asked if she should go to look for the things for him. 
But Charlotte quietly said that she had better not. The 
valet had to depart, and the carriage rolled away. 

It was a dreadful moment for Ottilie. She understood 
nothing comprehended nothing. She could only feel 
that Edward had been parted from her for a long time. 
Charlotte felt for her situation, and left her to herself. 

We will not attempt to describe what she went through, 
or how she wept. She suffered infinitely. She prayed 
that God would help her only over this one day. The day 
passed, and the night, and when she came to herself again 
she felt herself a changed being. 

(A) -8 VOL. 2 

Elective Affinities 

She had not grown composed. She was not resigned, 
but after having lost what she had lost, she was still alive, 
and there was still something for her to fear. Her anx- 
iety, after returning to consciousness, was at once lest, 
now that the gentlemen were gone, she might be sent 
away too. She never guessed at Edward's threats, which 
had secured her remaining with her aunt. Yet Char- 
lotte's manner served partially to reassure her. The lat- 
ter exerted herself to find employment for the poor girl, 
and hardly ever never, if she could help it left her out 
of her sight ; and although she knew well how little words 
can do against the power of passion, yet she knew, too, the 
sure though slow influence of thought and reflection, and 
therefore missed no opportunity of inducing Ottilie to 
talk with her on every variety of subject. 

It was no little comfort to Ottilie when one day Char- 
lotte took an opportunity of making (she did it on pur- 
pose) the wise observation, "How keenly grateful people 
were to us when we were able by stilling and calming 
them to help them out of the entanglements of passion! 
Let us set cheerfully to work," she said, "at what the 
men have left incomplete : we shall be preparing the most 
charming surprise for them when they return to us, and 
our temperate proceedings will have carried through 
and executed what their impatient natures would have 

"Speaking of temperance, my dear aunt, I can not help 
saying how I am struck with the intemperance of men, 
particularly in respect of wine. It has often pained and 


Elective Affinities 

distressed me, when I have observed how, for hours to- 
gether, clearness of understanding, judgment, consider- 
ateness, and whatever is most amiable about them, will 
be utterly gone, and, instead of the good which they might 
have done if they had been themselves, most disagree- 
able things sometimes threaten. How often may not 
wrong, rash determinations have arisen entirely from that 
one cause!" 

Charlotte assented, but she did not go on with the sub- 
ject. She saw only too clearly that it was Edward of 
whom Ottilie was thinking. It was not exactly habitual 
with him, but he allowed himself much more frequently 
than was at all desirable to stimulate his enjoyment and 
his power of talking and acting by such indulgence. If 
what Charlotte had just said had set Ottilie thinking 
again about men, and particularly about Edward, she was 
all the more struck and startled when her aunt began to 
speak of the impending marriage of the Captain as of a 
thing quite settled and acknowledged. This gave a totally 
different aspect to affairs from what Edward had pre- 
viously led her to entertain. It made her watch every 
expression of Charlotte's, every hint, every action, every 
step. Ottilie had become jealous, sharp-eyed, and sus- 
picious, without knowing it. 

Meanwhile, Charlotte with her clear glance looked 
through the whole circumstances of their situation, and 
made arrangements which would provide, among other 
advantages, full employment for Ottilie. She contracted 
her household, not parsimoniously, but into narrower di- 


Elective Affinities 

mensions ; and, indeed, in one point of view, these moral 
aberrations might be taken for a not unfortunate acci- 
dent. For in the style in which they had been going on, 
they had fallen imperceptibly into extravagance ; and from 
a want of seasonable reflection, from the rate at which 
they had been living, and from the variety of schemes 
into which they had been launching out, their fine for- 
tune, which had been in excellent condition, had been 
shaken, if not seriously injured. 

The improvements which were going on in the park she 
did not interfere with ; she rather sought to advance what- 
ever might form a basis for future operations. But here, 
too, she assigned herself a limit. Her husband on his 
return should still find abundance to amuse himself 

In all this work she could not sufficiently value the 
assistance of the young architect. In a short time the 
lake lay stretched out under her eyes, its new shores 
turfed and planted with the most discriminating and 
excellent judgment. The rough work at the new house 
was all finished. Everything which was necessary to pro- 
tect it from the weather she took care to see provided, 
and there for the present she allowed it to rest in a con- 
dition in which what remained to be done could here- 
after be readily commenced again. Thus hour by hour 
she recovered her spirits and her cheerfulness. Ottilie 
only seemed to have done so. She was only forever 
watching, in all that was said and done, for symptoms 
which might show her whether Edward would be soon 


Elective Affinities 

returning: and this one thought was the only one in 
which she felt any interest. 

It was, therefore, a very welcome proposal to her when 
it was suggested that they should get together the boys 
of the peasants, and employ them in keeping the park 
clean and neat. Edward had long entertained the idea. 
A pleasant-looking sort of uniform was made for them, 
which they were to put on in the evenings, after they had 
been properly cleaned and washed. The wardrobe was 
kept in the castle; the more sensible and ready of the 
boys themselves were entrusted with the management of 
it the Architect acting as chief director. In a very 
short time, the children acquired a kind of character. It 
was found easy to mold them into what was desired ; and 
they .went through their work not without a sort of 
maneuvre. As they marched along, with their garden 
shears, their long-handled pruning knives, their rakes, 
their little spades and hoes, and sweeping brooms ; others 
following after these with baskets to carry off the stones 
and rubbish; and others, last of all, trailing along the 
heavy iron roller it was a thoroughly pretty, delightful 
procession. The Architect observed in it a beautiful 
series of situations and occupations to ornament the 
frieze of a garden house. Ottilie, on the other hand, 
could see nothing in it but a kind of parade, to salute the 
master of the house on his near return. 

And this stimulated her, and made her wish to begin 
something of the sort herself. They had before endeav- 
ored to encourage the girls of the village in knitting, and 


Elective Affinities 

sewing, and spinning, and whatever else women could do ; 
and since what had been done for the improvement of the 
village itself, there had been a perceptible advance in 
these descriptions of industry. Ottilie had given what as- 
sistance was in her power, but she had given it at random, 
as opportunity or inclination prompted her; now she 
thought she would go to work more satisfactorily and 
methodically. But a company is not to be formed out 
of a number of girls as easily as out of a number of boys. 
She followed her own good sense, and, without being 
exactly conscious of it, her efforts were solely directed 
toward connecting every girl as closely as possible each 
with her own home, her own parents, brothers, and sis- 
ters : and she succeeded with many of them. One lively 
little creature only was incessantly complained of as show- 
ing no capacity for work, and as never likely to do any- 
thing if she were left at home. 

Ottilie could not be angry with the girl, for to herself 
the little thing was especially attached she clung to her, 
went after her, and ran about with her, whenever she 
was permitted and then she would be active and cheer- 
ful and never tire. It appeared to be a necessity of the 
child's nature to hang about a beautiful mistress. At 
first, Ottilie allowed her to be her companion; then she 
herself began to feel a sort of affection for her; and, at 
last, they never parted at all, and Nanny attended her 
mistress wherever she went. 

The latter's footsteps were often bent toward the gar- 
den, where she liked to watch the beautiful show of fruit. 


Elective Affinities 

It was just the end of the raspberry and cherry season, 
the few remains of which were no little delight to Nanny. * 
On the other trees there was a promise of a magnificent 
bearing for the autumn, and the gardener talked of noth- 
ing but his master ; and how he wished that he might be 
at home to enjoy it. Ottilie could listen to the good old 
man forever! He thoroughly understood his business; 
and Edward Edward Edward was forever the theme 
of his praise ! 

Ottilie observed how well all the grafts which had 
been budded in the spring had taken. "I only wish," the 
gardener answered, "my good master may come to enjoy 
them. If he were here this autumn, he would see what 
beautiful sorts there are in the old castle garden, which 
the late lord, his honored father, put there. I think the 
fruit gardeners that are now don't succeed as well as the 
Carthusians used to do. We find many fine names in the 
catalogue, and then we bud from them, and bring up the 
shoots, and, at last, when they come to bear, it is not 
worth while to have such trees standing in our garden." 

Over and over again, whenever the faithful old servant 
saw Ottilie, he asked when his master might be expected 
home ; and when Ottilie had nothing to tell him, he would 
look vexed, and let her see in his manner that he thought 
she did not care to tell him : the sense of uncertainty 
which was thus forced upon her became painful beyond 
measure, and yet she could never be absent from these 
beds and borders. What she and Edward had sown and 
planted together were now in full flower, requiring no 


Elective Affinities 

further care from her, except that Nanny should be at 
hand with the watering-pot ; and who shall say with what 
sensations she watched the later flowers, which were just 
beginning to show, and which were to be in the bloom of 
their beauty on Edward's birthday, the holiday to which 
she had looked forward with such eagerness, when these 
flowers were to have expressed her affection and her grati- 
tude to him ! but the hopes which she had formed of that 
festival were dead now, and doubt and anxiety never 
ceased to haunt the soul of the poor girl. 

Into real open, hearty understanding with Charlotte, 
there was no more a chance of her being able to return ; 
for, indeed, the position of these two ladies was very dif- 
ferent. If things could remain in their old state if it 
were possible that they could return again into the smooth, 
even way of calm, ordered life, Charlotte gained every- 
thing ; she gained happiness for the present, and a happy 
future opened before her. On the other hand, for Ot- 
tilie all was lost one may say, all ; for she had first found 
in Edward what life and happiness meant; and, in her 
present position she felt an infinite and dreary chasm of 
which before she could have formed no conception. A 
heart which seeks feels well that it wants something; 
a heart which has lost feels that something is gone its 
yearning and its longing change into uneasy impatience 
and a woman's spirit, which is accustomed to waiting 
and to enduring, must now pass out from its proper 

(sphere; become active, and attempt and do something to 
make its own hapoiness. 


Elective Affinities 

Ottilie had not given up Edward how could she? 
although Charlotte, wisely enough, in spite of her convic- 
tion to the contrary, assumed it as a thing of course, and 
resolutely took it as decided that a quiet rational regard 
was possible between her husband and Ottilie. How 
often, however, did not Ottilie remain at nights, after 
bolting herself into her room, on her knees before the 
open box, gazing at the birthday presents, of which as 
yet she had not touched a single thing not cut out or 
made up a single dress! How often with the sunrise 
did the poor girl hurry out of the house, in which she 
once had found all her happiness, away into the free air, 
into the country which then had had no charms for her! 
Even on the solid earth she could not bear to stay; she 
would spring into the boat, and row out into the middle 
of the lake, and there, drawing out some book of travels, 
lie rocked by the motion of the waves, reading and dream- 
ing that she was far away, where she would never fail to 
find her friend she remaining ever nearest to his heart, 
and he to hers. 


Elective Affinities 


IT may easily be supposed that the strange, busy gen- 
tleman whose acquaintance we have already made Mit- 
tler as soon as he received information of the disorder 
which had broken out among his friends, felt desirous, 
though neither side had as yet called on him for assist- 
ance, to fulfil a friend's part toward them, and do what 
he could to help them in their misfortune. He thought 
it advisable, however, to wait first a little while; know- 
ing too well, as he did, that it was more difficult to come 
to the aid of cultivated persons in their moral perplex- 
ities than of the uncultivated. He left them, therefore, 
for some time to themselves; but at last he could with- 
hold no longer,, and he hastened to seek out Edward, on 
whose traces he had already lighted. His road led him 
to a pleasant, pretty valley, with a range of green, 
sweetly wooded meadows, down the centre of which ran 
a never-failing stream, sometimes winding slowly along, 
then tumbling and rushing among rocks and stones. The 
hills sloped gently up on either side, covered with rich 
corn-fields and well-kept orchards. The villages were at 
proper distances from each other. The whole had a peace- 
ful character about it, and the detached scenes seemed de- 
signed expressly, if not for painting, at least for life. 

At last a neatly kept farm, with a clean, modest dwell- 


Elective Affinities 

ing-house, situated in the middle of a garden, fell under 
his eye. He conjectured that this was Edward's pres- 
ent abodej and he was not mistaken. 

Of this our friend in his solitude we have only thus 
much to say that in his seclusion he was resigning him- 
self utterly to the feeling of his passion, thinking out 
plan after plan, and feeding himself with innumerable 
hopes. He could not deny that he longed to see Ottilie 
there; that he would like to carry her off there, to tempt 
her there; and whatever else (putting, as he now did, no 
check upon his thoughts) pleased to suggest itself, 
whether permitted or unpermitted. Then his imagina- 
tion wandered up and down, picturing every sort of pos- 
sibility. If he could not have her there, if he could not 
lawfully possess her, he would secure to her the pos- 
session of the property for her own. There she should 
live for herself, silently, independently; she should be 
happy in that spot sometimes his self-torturing mood 
would lead him further be happy in it, perhaps, with 

So days flowed away in increasing oscillation between 
hope and suffering, between tears and happiness ; be- 
tween purposes, preparations, and despair. The sight of 
Mittler did not surprise him ; he had long expected that he 
would come ; and now that he did, he was partly welcome 
to him. He believed that he had been sent by Charlotte. 
He had prepared himself with all manner of excuses 
and delays; and if these would not serve, with decided 
refusals; or else, perhaps, he might hope to learn some- 


Elective Affinities 

thing of Ottilie and then he would be dear to him as a 
messenger from heaven. 

Not a little vexed and annoyed was Edward, therefore, 
when he understood that Mittler had not come from the 
castle at all, but of his own free accord. His heart closed 
up, and at first the conversation would not open itself. 
Mittler, however, knew very well that a heart that is 
occupied with love has an urgent necessity to express it- 
self to pour out to a friend what is passing within it; 
and he allowed liimself, therefore, after a few speeches 
backward and forward, for this once to go out of his 
character, and play the confidant in place of the medi- 
ator. He had calculated justly. He had been finding 
fault in a good-natured way with Edward, for burying 
himself in that lonely place, upon which Edward replied : 

"I do not know how I could spend my time more 
agreeably. I am always occupied with her ; I am always 
close to her. I have the inestimable comfort of being 
able to think where Ottilie is at each moment where 
she is going, where she is standing, where she is repos- 
ing. I see her moving and acting before me as usual; 
ever doing or designing something which is to give me 
pleasure. But this will not always answer ; for how can 
I be happy away from her ? And then my fancy begins 
to work ; I think what Ottilie should do to come to me ; 
I write sweet, loving letters in her name to myself, and 
then I answer them, and keep the sheets together. I 
have promised that I will take no steps to seek her ; an'd 
that promise I will keep. But what binds her that she 


Elective Affinities 

should make no advances to me ? Has Charlotte had the 
barbarity to exact a promise, to exact an oath from her, 
not to write to me, not to send me a word, a hint, about 
herself? Very likely she has. It is only natural; and 
yet to me it is monstrous, it is horrible. If she loves me 
as I think, as I know that she does why does she not 
resolve, why does she not venture to fly to me, and throw 
herself into my arms ? I often think she ought to do it ; 
and she could do it. If I ever hear a noise in the hall, 
I look toward the door. It must be she she is coming 
I look up to see her. Alas! because the possible is im- 
possible, I let myself imagine that the impossible must 
become possible. At night, when I lie awake, and the 
lamp flings an uncertain light about the room, her form, 
her spirit, a sense of her presence, sweeps over me, ap- 
proaches me, seizes me. It is but for a moment; it is 
that I may have an assurance that she is thinking of me, 
that she is mine. Only one pleasure remains to me. 
When I was with her I never dreamt of her; now when 
I am far away, and, oddly enough, since I have made 
the acquaintance of other attractive persons in this neigh- 
borhood, for the first time, her figure appears to me in 
my dreams, as if she would say to me, 'Look on them, 
and on me. You will find none more beautiful, more 
lovely than I.' And so she is present in every dream I 
have. In whatever happens to me with her, we are 
woven in and in together. Now we are subscribing a 
contract together. There is her hand, and there is mine ; 
there is her name, and there is mine; and they move one 


Elective Affinities 

into the other, and seem to devour each other. Some- 
times she does something which injures the pure idea 
which I have of her ; and then I feel how intensely I love 
her, by the indescribable anguish which it causes me. 
Again, unlike herself, she will rally and vex me; and 
then at once the figure changes her sweet, round, heav- 
enly face draws out ; it is not she, it is another ; but I lie 
vexed, dissatisfied, and wretched. Laugh not, dear Mit- 
tler, or laugh on as you will. I am not ashamed of this 
attachment, of this if you please to call it so foolish, 
frantic passion. No, I never loved before. It is only 
now that I know what to love means. Till now, what I 
have called life was nothing but its prelude amuse- 
ment, sport to kill the time with. I never lived till I 
knew her, till I loved her entirely and only loved her. 
People have often said of me, not to my face, but be- 
hind my back, that in most things I was but a botcher and 
a bungler. It may be so ; for I had not then found in what 
I could show myself a master. I should like to see the man 
who outdoes me in the talent of love. A miserable life 
it is, full of anguish and tears; but it is so natural, so 
dear to me, that I could hardly change it for another." 

Edward had relieved himself slightly by this violent 
unloading of his heart. But in doing so every feature 
of his strange condition had been brought out so clearly 
before his eyes that, overpowered by the pain of the 
struggle, he burst into tears, which flowed all the more 
freely as his heart had been made weak by telling it all. 

Mittler, who was the less disposed to put a check on 


Elective Affinities 

his inexorable good sense and strong, vigorous feeling, 
because by this violent outbreak of passion on Edward's 
part he saw himself driven far from the purpose of his 
coming, showed sufficiently decided marks of his disap- 
probation. Edward should act as a man, he said; he 
should remember what he owed to himself as a man. He 
should not forget that the highest honor was to command 
ourselves in misfortune; to bear pain, if it must be so, 
with equanimity and self-collectedness. That was what 
we should do, if we wished to be valued and looked up 
to as examples of what was right. 

Stirred and penetrated as Edward was with the bitter- 
est feelings, words like these could but have a hollow, 
worthless sound. 

"It is well," he cried, "for the man who is happy, who 
has all that he desires, to talk ; but he would be ashamed 
of it if he could see how intolerable it was to the sufferer. 
Nothing short of an infinite endurance would be enough, 
and easy and contented as he was, what could he know 
of an infinite agony? There are cases," he continued, 
"yes, there are, where comfort is a lie, and despair is a 
duty. Go, heap your scorn upon the noble Greek, who 
well knows how to delineate heroes, when in their anguish 
he lets those heroes weep. He has even a proverb, 'Men 
who can weep are good/ Leave me, all you with dry 
heart and dry eye. Curses on the happy, to whom the 
wretched serve but for a spectacle. When body and soul 
are torn in pieces with agony, they are to bear it yes, 
to be noble and bear it, if they are to be allowed to go off 

Elective Affinities 

the scene with applause. Like the gladiators, they must 
die gracefully before the eyes of the multitude. My dear 
Mittler, I thank you for your visit ; but really you would 
oblige me much if you would go out and look about you 
in the garden. We will meet again. I will try to compose 
myself, and become more like you." 

Mittler was unwilling to let a conversation drop which 
it might be difficult to begin again, and still persevered. 
Edward, too, was quite ready to go on with it; besides that 
of itself it was tending toward the issue which he desired. 

"Indeed," said the latter, "this thinking and arguing 
backward and forward leads to nothing. In this very con- 
versation I myself have first come to understand myself ; 
I have first felt decided as to what I must make up my 
mind to do. My present and my future life I see before 
me; I have to choose only between misery and happi- 
ness. Do you, my best friend, bring about the separa- 
tion which must take place, which, in fact, is already 
made; gain Charlotte's consent for me. I will not enter 
upon the reasons why I believe there will be the less diffi- 
culty in prevailing upon her. You, my dear friend, must 
go. Go, and give us all peace ; make us all happy." 

Mittler hesitated. Edward continued: 

"My fate and Ottilie's can not be divided, and shall not 
be shipwrecked. Look at this glass; our initials are en- 
graved upon it. A gay reveler flung it into the air, that 
no one should drink of it more. It was to fall on the 
rock and be dashed to pieces ; but it did not fall ; it was 
caught. At a high price I bought it back, and now I drink 


Elective Affinities 

out of it daily to convince myself that the connection 
between us can not be broken; that destiny has decided." 

"Alas, alas!" cried Mittler, "what must I not endure 
with my friends ? Here comes superstition, which of all 
things I hate the worst the most mischievous and ac- 
cursed of all the plagues of mankind. We trifle with 
prophecies, with forebodings, and dreams, and give a 
seriousness to our every-day life with them; but when the 
seriousness of life itself begins to show, when everything 
around us is heaving and rolling, then come in these 
spectres to make the storm more terrible." 

"In this uncertainty of life," cried Edward, "poised as 
it is between hope and fear, leave the poor heart its 
guiding-star. It may gaze, if it can not steer, toward it." 

"Yes, I might leave it ; and it would be very well," re- 
plied Mittler, "if there were but one consequence to ex- 
pect; but I have always found that nobody will attend 
to symptoms of warning. Man cares for nothing except 
what flatters him and promises him fair; and his faith is 
alive exclusively for the sunny side." 

Mittler, finding himself carried off into the shadowy 
regions, in which the longer he remained in them, the 
more uncomfortable he always felt, was the more ready 
to assent to Edward's eager wish that he should go to 
Charlotte. Indeed, if he stayed, what was there further 
which at that moment he could urge on Edward? To 
gain time, to inquire in what state things were with the 
ladies, was the best thing which even he himself could 
suggest as at present possible. 


Elective Affinities 

He hastened to Charlotte, whom he found as usual 
calm and in good spirits. She told him readily of every- 
thing which had occurred; for from what Edward had 
said he had only been able to gather the effects. On his 
own side he felt his way with the utmost caution. He 
could not prevail upon himself even cursorily to mention 
the word separation. It was a surprise, indeed, to him, 
but from his point of view an unspeakably delightful one, 
when Charlotte, at the end of a number of unpleasant 
things, finished with saying: 

"I must believe, I must hope, that things will all work 
round again, and that Edward will return to me. How 
can it be otherwise, as soon as I become a mother?" 

"Do I understand you right?" returned Mittler. 

"Perfectly," Charlotte answered. 

"A thousand times blessed be this news!" he cried, 
clasping his hands together. "I know the strength of 
this argument on the mind of a man. Many a marriage 
have I seen first cemented by it, and restored again when 
broken. Such a good hope as this is worth more than a 
thousand words. Now indeed it is the best hope which 
we can have. For myself, though," he continued, "I 
have all reason to be vexed about it. In this case I can 
see clearly no self-love of mine will be flattered. I shall 
earn no thanks from you by my services; I am in the 
same case as a certain medical friend of mine, who suc- 
ceeds in all cures which he undertakes with the poor for 
the love of God; but can seldom do anything for the 
rich who will pay him. Here, thank God the thing 


Elective Affinities 

cures itself, after all my talking and trying had proved 

Charlotte now asked him if he would carry the news to 
Edward; if he would take a letter to him from her, and 
then see what should be done. But he declined under- 
taking this. "All is done," he cried ; "do you write your 
letter any messenger will do as well as I I will come 
back to wish you joy. I will come to the christening!" 

For this refusal she was vexed with him as she fre- 
quently was. His eager, impetuous character brought 
about much good ; but his overhaste was the occasion of 
many a failure. No one was more dependent than he on 
the impressions which he formed on the moment. 

Charlotte's messenger came to Edward, who received 
him half in terror. The letter was to decide his fate, 
and it might as well contain No as Yes. He did not 
venture, for a long time, to open it. At last he tore off the 
cover, and stood petrified at the following passage, with 
which it concluded: 

"Remember the night-adventure when you visited your 
wife as a lover how you drew her to you, and clasped 
her as a well-beloved bride in your arms. In this strange 
accident let us revere the providence of Heaven, which 
has woven a new link to bind us at the moment when 
the happiness of our lives was threatening to fall asun- 
der and to vanish." 

What passed from that moment in Edward's soul it 
would be difficult to describe ! Under the weight of such 


Elective Affinities 

a stroke old habits and fancies come out again to assist 
to kill the time and fill up the chasms of life. Hunting 
and fighting are an ever-ready resource of this kind for 
a nobleman; Edward longed for some outward peril as 
a counterbalance to the storm within him. He craved 
for death, because the burden of life threatened to become 
too heavy for him to bear. It comforted him to think that 
he would soon cease to be, and so would make those 
whom he loved happy by his departure. 

No one made any difficulty in his doing what he pur- 
posed because he kept his intention a secret. He made 
his will with all due formalities. It gave him a very 
sweet feeling to secure Ottilie's fortune provision was 
made for Charlotte, for the unborn child, for the Cap- 
tain, and for the servants. The war, which had again 
broken out, favored his wishes: he had disliked exceed- 
ingly the half-soldiering which had fallen to him in his 
youth, and that was the reason why he had left the 
service. Now it gave him a fine exhilarating feeling to 
be able to rejoin it, under a commander of whom it 
could be said that under his conduct death was likely 
and victory was sure. 

Ottilie, when Charlotte's secret was made known to 
her, bewildered by it, like Edward, and more than he, 
retired into herself she had nothing further to say: 
hope she could not, and wish she dared not. A glimpse 
into what was passing in her we can gather from her 
diary, some passages of which we propose to communi- 
cate before long. 


Elective Affinities 


THERE often happens to us in common life what, in an 
epic poem, we are accustomed to praise as a stroke of art 
in the poet; namely, that when the chief figures go off 
the scene, conceal themselves or retire into inactivity, some 
other or others, whom hitherto we have scarcely observed, 
come forward and fill their places. And these putting out 
all their force at once fix our attention and sympathy on 
themselves, and earn our praise and admiration. 

Thus, after the Captain and Edward were gone, the 
Architect, of whom we have spoken, appeared every day 
a more important person. The ordering and executing 
of a number of undertakings depended entirely upon him, 
and he proved himself thoroughly understanding and 
businesslike in the style in which he went to work ; while 
in a number of other ways he was able also to make him- 
self of assistance to the ladies, and find amusement for 
their weary hours. His outward air and appearance were 
of the kind which win confidence and awake affection. A 
youth in the full sense of the word, well-formed, tall, per- 
haps a little too stout; modest without being timid, and 
easy without being obtrusive, there was no work and no 
trouble which he was not delighted to take upon himself ; 
and as he could keep accounts with great facility, the 
whole economy of the household soon was no secret to 


Elective Affinities 

him, and everywhere his salutary influence made itself 
felt. Any stranger who came he was commonly set to 
entertain, and he was skilful either at declining unex- 
pected visits, or at least so far preparing the ladies for 
them as to spare them any disagreeableness. 

Among others, he had one day no little trouble with a 
young lawyer, who had been sent by a neighboring noble- 
man to speak about a matter which, although of no par- 
ticular moment, yet touched Charlotte to the quick. We 
have to mention this incident because it gave occasion 
for a number of things which otherwise might perhaps 
have remained long untouched. 

We remember certain alterations which Charlotte had 
made in the churchyard. The entire body of the monu- 
ments had been removed from their places, and had been 
ranged along the walls of the church, leaning against the 
string-course. The remaining space had been leveled, 
except a broad walk which led up to the church, and past 
it to the opposite gate; and it had been all sown with 
various kinds of trefoil, which had shot up and flowered 
most beautifully. 

The new graves were to follow one after another in a 
regular order from the end, but the spot on each occasion 
was to be carefully smoothed over and again sown. No 
one could deny that on Sundays and holidays when the 
people went to church the change had given it a most 
cheerful and pleasant appearance. At the same time the 
clergyman, an old man and clinging to old customs, who at 
first had not been especially pleased with the alteration, 


Elective Affinities 

had become thoroughly delighted with it, all the more 
because when he sat out like Philemon with his Baucis 
under the old linden trees at his back door, instead of the 
humps and mounds he had a beautiful clean lawn to look 
out upon; and which, moreover, Charlotte having se- 
cured the use of the spot to the Parsonage, was no little 
convenience to his household. 

Notwithstanding this, however, many members of the 
congregation had been displeased that the means of mark- 
ing the spots where their forefathers rested had been re- 
moved, and all memorials of them thereby obliterated. 
However well preserved the monuments might be, they 
could only show who had been buried, but not where, 
and the where, as many maintained, was everything. 

Of this opinion was a family in the neighborhood, who 
for many years had been in possession of a considerable 
vault for a general resting-place of themselves and their 
relations, and in consequence had settled a small annual 
sum for the use of the church. And now this young law- 
yer had been sent to cancel this settlement, and to show 
that his client did not intend to pay it any more, because 
the condition under which it had been hitherto made had 
not been observed by the other party, and no regard had 
been paid to objection and remonstrance. Charlotte, who 
was the originator of the alteration herself, chose to speak 
to the young man, who, in a decided though not a violent 
manner, laid down the grounds on which his client pro- 
ceeded, and gave occasion in what he said for much 
serious reflection. 


Elective Affinities 

"You see," he said, after a slight introduction, in which 
he sought to justify his peremptoriness ; "you see, it is 
right for the lowest as well as for the highest to mark 
the spot which holds those who are dearest to him. The 
poorest peasant who buries a child finds it some con- 
solation to plant a light wooden cross upon the grave, and 
hang a garland upon it, to keep alive the memorial, at 
least as long as the sorrow remains; although such a 
mark, like the mourning, will pass away with time. 
Those better off change the cross of wood into iron, and 
fix it down and guard it in various ways; and here we 
have endurance for many years. But because this too 
will sink at last, and become invisible, those who are able 
to bear the expense see nothing fitter than to raise a stone 
which shall promise to endure for generations, and which 
can be restored and made fresh again by posterity. Yet 
this stone it is not which attracts us; it is that which is 
contained beneath it, which is entrusted, where it stands, 
to the earth. It is not the memorial so much of which we 
speak as of the person himself; not of what once was, but 
of what is. Far better, far more closely, can I embrace 
some dear departed one in the mound which rises over his 
bed than in a monumental writing which only tells us 
that once he was. In itself, indeed, it is but little; but 
around it, as around a central mark, the wife, the hus- 
band, the kinsman, the friend, after their departure, shall 
gather in again; and the living shall have the right to 
keep far off all strangers and evil-wishers from the side 
of the dear one who is sleeping there. 


Elective Affinities 

"And, therefore, I hold it quite fair and fitting that my 
principal shall withdraw his grant to you. It is, indeed, 
but reasonable too that he should do it, for the members 
of his family are injured in a way for which no compen- 
sation could be even proposed. They are deprived of the 
sad sweet feelings of laying offerings on the remains of 
their dead, and of the one comfort in their sorrow of one 
day lying down at their side." 

"The matter is not of that importance," Charlotte an- 
swered, "that we should disquiet ourselves about it with 
the vexation of a lawsuit. I regret so little what I have 
done that I will gladly myself indemnify the church for 
what it loses through you. Only I must confess candidly 
to you your arguments have not convinced me ; the pure 
feeling of a universal equality at last, after death, seems 
to me more composing than this hard, determined per- 
sistence in our personalities and in the conditions and 
circumstances of our lives. What do you say to it ?" she 
added, turning to the Architect. 

"It is not for me," replied he, "either to argue, or to 
attempt to judge in such a case. Let me venture, how- 
ever, to say what my own art and my own habits of think- 
ing suggest to me. Since we are no longer so happy as 
to be able to press to our breasts the inurned remains of 
those we have loved, since we are neither wealthy enough 
nor of cheerful heart enough to preserve them undecayed 
in large elaborate sarcophagi; since, indeed, we can not 
even find place any more for ourselves and ours in the 
churches, and are banished out into the open air, we all, 


(A) 9 VOL. 2 

Elective Affinities 

I think, ought to approve the method which you, my gra- 
cious lady, have introduced. If the members of a com- 
mon congregation are laid out side by side, they are 
resting by the side of and among their kindred; and, if 
the earth be once to receive us all, I can find nothing more 
natural or more desirable than that the mounds, which, 
if they are thrown up, are sure to sink slowly in again 
together, should be smoothed off at once, and the cover- 
ing, which all bear alike, will press lighter upon each." 

"And is it all, is it all to pass away/' said Ottilie, "with- 
out one token of remembrance, without anything to call 
back the past?" 

"By no means," continued the Architect; "it is not 
from remembrance, it is from place that men should be 
set free. The architect, the sculptor, are highly interested 
that men should look to their art to their hand, for a 
continuance of their being; and, therefore, I should wish 
to see well-designed, well-executed monuments ; not sown 
up and down by themselves at random, but erected all in 
a single spot, where they can promise themselves en- 
durance. Inasmuch as even the good and the great are 
contented to surrender the privilege of resting in person 
in the churches, we may, at least, erect there or in some 
fair hall near the burying-place, either monuments or 
monumental writings. A thousand forms might be sug- 
gested for them, and a thousand ornaments with which 
they might be decorated." 

"If the artists are so rich," replied Charlotte, "then tell 
me how it is that they are never able to escape from little 


Elective Affinities 

obelisks, dwarf pillars, and urns for ashes? Instead of 
your thousand forms of which you boast, I have never 
seen anything but a thousand repetitions." 

"It is very generally so with us," returned the Archi- 
tect, "but it is not universal; and very likely the right 
taste and the proper application of it may be a peculiar 
art. In this case especially we have this great difficulty, 
that the monument must be something cheerful and yet 
commemorate a solemn subject; while its matter is mel- 
ancholy, it must not itself be melancholy. As regards 
designs for monuments of all kinds, I have collected num- 
bers of them, and I will take some opportunity of show- 
ing them to you ; but at all times the fairest memorial of 
a man remains some likeness of himself. This, better 
than anything else, will give a notion of what he was; 
it is the best text for many or for few notes, only it 
ought to be made when he is at his best age, and that is 
generally neglected; no one thinks of preserving forms 
while they are alive, and if it is done at all, it is done care- 
lessly .and incompletely : and then comes death ; a cast is 
taken swiftly off the face; this mask is set upon a block 
of stone, and that is what is called a bust. How seldom 
is the artist in a position to put any real life into such 
things as these!" 

"You have contrived," said Charlotte, "without per- 
haps knowing it or wishing it, to lead the conversation 
altogether in my favor. The likeness of a man is quite 
independent ; everywhere that it stands, it stands for itself, 
and we do not require it to mark the site of a partictt- 

Elective Affinities 

lar grave. But I must acknowledge to you to having a 
strange feeling; even to likenesses I have a kind of dis- 
inclination. Whenever I see them they seem to be silently 
reproaching me. They point to something far away from 
us gone from us; and they remind me how difficult it 
is to pay right honor to the present. If we think how 
many people we have seen and known, and consider how 
little we have been to them and how little they have been 
to us, it is no very pleasant reflection. We have met a 
man of genius without having enjoyed much with him 
a learned man without having learned from him a trav- 
eler without having been instructed a man to love with- 
out having shown him any kindness. 

"And, unhappily, this is not the case only with acci- 
dental meetings. Societies and families behave in the 
same way toward their dearest members, towns toward 
their worthiest citizens, people toward their most admi- 
rable princes, nations toward their most distinguished 

"I have heard it asked why we heard nothing but good 
spoken of the dead, while of the living it is never without 
some exception. It should be answered, because from the 
former we have nothing any more to fear, while the latter 
may still, here or there, fall in our way. So unreal is 
our anxiety to preserve the memory of others generally 
no more than a mere selfish amusement ; and the real, holy, 
earnest feeling would be what should prompt us to be 
more diligent and assiduous in our attentions toward 
those who still are left to us." 


Elective Affinities 


UNDER the stimulus of this accident, and of the con- 
versations which arose out of it, they went the following 
day to look over the burying-place, for the ornamenting * 
of which and relieving it in some degree of its sombre 
look the Architect made many a happy proposal. His in- 
terest too had to extend itself to the church as well; a 
building which had caught his attention from the moment 
of his arrival. 

It had been standing for many centuries, built in old 
German style, the proportions good, the decorating elab- 
orate and excellent ; and one might easily gather that the 
architect of the neighboring monastery had left the stamp 
of his art and of his love on this smaller building also ; it 
worked on the beholder with a solemnity and a sweetness, 
although the change in its internal arrangements for the 
Protestant service had taken from it something of its re- 
pose and majesty. 

The Architect found no great difficulty in prevailing on 
Charlotte to give him a considerable sum of money to 
restore it externally and internally, in the original spirit, 
and thus, as he thought, to bring it into harmony with 
the resurrection-field which lay in front of it. He had 


Elective Affinities 

himself much practical skill, and a few laborers who were 
still busy at the lodge might easily be kept together until 
this pious work too should be completed. 

The building itself, therefore, with all its environs, and 
whatever was attached to it, was now carefully and thor- 
oughly examined ; and then showed itself, to the greatest 
surprise and delight of the Architect, a little side chapel, 
which nobody had thought of, beautifully and delicately 
proportioned, and displaying still greater care and pains 
in its decoration. It contained at the same time many 
remnants, carved and painted, of the implements used in 
the old services, when the different festivals were distin- 
guished by a variety of pictures and ceremonies, and each 
was celebrated in its own peculiar style. 

It was impossible for him not at once to take this 
chapel into his plan ; and he determined to bestow especial 
pains on the restoring of this little spot, as a memorial of 
old times, and of their taste. He saw exactly how he 
would like to have the vacant surfaces of the walls orna- 
mented, and delighted himself with the prospect of exer- 
cising his talent for painting upon them; but of this, at 
first, he made a secret to the rest of the party. 

Before doing anything else, he fulfilled his promise of 
showing the ladies the various imitations of, and designs 
from, old monuments, vases, and other such things which 
he had made ; and when they came to speak of the simple 
barrow-sepulchres of the northern nations, he brought a 
collection of weapons and implements which had been 
found in them. He had got them exceedingly nicely and 


Elective Affinities 

conveniently arranged in drawers and compartments, laid 
on boards cut to fit them, and covered over with cloth ; so 
that these solemn old things, in the way he treated them, 
had a smart dressy appearance, and it was like looking 
into the box of a trinket merchant. 

Having once begun to show his curiosities, and finding 
them prove serviceable to entertain our friends in their 
loneliness, every evening he would produce one or other 
of his treasures. They were most of them of German 
origin pieces of metal, old coins, seals, and such like. 
All these things directed the imagination back upon old 
times; and when at last they came to amuse themselves 
with the first specimens of printing, woodcuts, and the 
earliest copper-plate engraving, and when the church, in 
the same spirit, was growing out, every day, more and 
more in form and color like the past, they had almost to 
ask themselves whether they really were living in a mod- 
ern time, whether it were not a dream, that manners, cus- 
toms, modes of life, and convictions were all really so 

After such preparation, a great portfolio, which at last 
he produced, had the best possible effect. It contained 
indeed principally only outlines and figures, but as these 
had been traced upon original pictures, they retained per- 
fectly their ancient character, and most captivating indeed 
this character was to the spectators. All the figures 
breathed only the purest feeling ; every one, if not noble, 
at any rate was good ; cheerful composure, ready recogni- 
tion of One above us, to whom all reverence is due ; silent 


Elective Affinities 

devotion, in love and tranquil expectation, was expressed 
on every face, in every gesture. The old bald-headed 
man, the curly-pated boy, the light-hearted youth, the 
earnest man, the glorified saint, the angel hovering in the 
air, all seemed happy in an innocent, satisfied, pious ex- 
pectation. The commonest object had a trait of celestial 
life; and every nature seemed adapted to the service of 
God, and to be, in some way or other, employed upon it. 

Toward such a region most of them gazed as toward a 
vanished golden age, or on some lost paradise ; only per- 
haps Ottilie had a chance of finding herself among beings 
of her own nature. Who could offer any opposition when 
the Architect asked to be allowed to paint the spaces be- 
tween the arches and the walls of the chapel in the style 
of these old pictures; and thereby leave his own distinct 
memorial at a place where life had gone so pleasantly 
with him? 

He spoke of it with some sadness, for he could see, in 
the state in which things were, that his sojourn in such 
delightful society could not last forever ; indeed, that per- 
haps it would now soon be ended. 

For the rest, these days were not rich in incidents ; yet 
full of occasion for serious entertainment We therefore 
take the opportunity of communicating something of the 
remarks which Ottilie noted down among her manu- 
scripts, to which we can not find a fitter transition than 
through a simile which suggested itself to us on contem- 
plating her exquisite pages. 

There is, we are told, a curious contrivance in the serv- 


Elective Affinities 

ice of the English marine. The ropes in use in the 
royal navy, from the largest to the smallest, are so 
twisted that a red thread runs through them from end 
to end, which can not be extracted without undoing the 
whole; and by which the smallest pieces may be recog- 
nized as belonging to the crown. 

Just so is there drawn through Ottilie's diary a thread 
of attachment and affection which connects it all to- 
gether, and characterizes the whole. And thus these re- 
marks, these observations, these extracted sentences, and 
whatever else it may contain, were, to the writer, of pe- 
culiar meaning. Even the few separate pieces which we 
select and transcribe will sufficiently explain our meaning. 



"To rest hereafter at the side of those whom we love 
is the most delightful thought which man can have when 
once he looks out beyond the boundary of life. What a 
sweet expression is that 'He was gathered to his 

"Of the various memorials and tokens which bring 
nearer to us the distant and the separated none is so 
satisfactory as a picture. To sit and talk to a beloved 
picture, even though it be unlike, has a charm in it, like 
the charm which there sometimes is in quarreling with 
a friend. We feel, in a strange sweet way that we are 
divided and yet can not separate." 

"We entertain ourselves often with a present person 
as with a picture. He need not speak to us, he need not 


Elective Affinities 

look at us, or take any notice of us; we look at him, we 
feel the relation in which we stand to him; such relation 
can even grow without his doing anything toward it, 
without his having any feeling of it : he is to us exactly 
as a picture." 

"One is never satisfied with a portrait of a person that 
one knows. I have always felt for the portrait-painter 
on this account. One so seldom requires of people what 
is impossible, and of them we do really require what is 
impossible ; they must gather up into their picture the re- 
lation of everybody to its subject, all their likings and all 
dislikings; they must not only paint a man as they see 
him, but as every one else sees him. It does not surprise 
me if such artists become by degrees stunted, indifferent, 
and of but one idea; and indeed it would not matter what 
came of it, if it were not that in consequence we have to 
go without the pictures of so many persons near and dear 
to us." s 

"It is too true, the Architect's collection of weapons 
and old implements, which were found with the bodies of 
their owners, covered in with great hills of earth and 
rock, proves to us how useless is man's so great anxiety 
to preserve his personality after he is dead ; and so incon- 
sistent people are ! the Architect confesses to have himself 
opened these barrows of his forefathers, and yet goes on 
occupying himself with memorials for posterity." 

"But after all why should we take it so much to heart? 
Is all that we do done for eternity? Do we not put on 
our dress in the morning to throw it off again at night? 


Elective Affinities 

Do we not go abroad to return home again? And why 
should we not wish to rest by the side of our friends, 
though it were but for a century?" 

"When we see the many gravestones which have fallen 
in, which have been defaced by the footsteps of the congre- 
gation, which lie buried under the ruins of the churches 
that have themselves crumbled together over them, we 
may fancy the life after death to be as a second life, into 
which a man enters in the figure, or the picture, or the 
inscription, and lives longer there than when he was really 
alive. But this figure also, this second existence, dies out 
too, sooner or later. Time will not allow himself to be 
cheated of his rights with the monuments of men or with 


Elective Affinities 


IT causes us so agreeable a sensation to occupy our- 
selves with what we can only half do that no person ought 
to find fault with the dilettante, when he is spending his 
time over an art which he can never learn; nor blame 
the artist if he chooses to pass out over the border of his 
own art, and amuse himself in some neighboring field. 
With such complacency of feeling we regard the prepara- 
tion of the Architect for the painting the chapel. The 
colors were got ready, the measurements taken; the car- 
toons designed. He had made no attempt at originality, 
but kept close to his outlines; his only care was to make 
a proper distribution of the sitting and floating figures, 
so as tastefully to ornament his space with them. 

The scaffoldings were erected. The work went for- 
ward ; and as soon as anything had been done on which 
the eye could rest, he could have no objection to Charlotte 
and Ottilie coming to see how he was getting on. 

The lifelike faces of the angels, their robes waving 
against the blue sky-ground, delighted the eye, while 
their still and holy air calmed and composed the spirit, 
and produced the most delicate effect. 

The ladies ascended the scaffolding to him, and Ottilie 


Elective Affinities 

had scarcely observed how easily and regularly the work 
was being done than the power which had been fostered 
in her by her early education at once appeared to develop. 
She took a brush, and, with a few words of direction, 
painted a richly folding robe, with as much delicacy as 

Charlotte, who was always glad when Ottilie would 
occupy or amuse herself with anything, left them both in 
the chapel, and went to follow the train of her own 
thoughts, and work her way for herself through her cares 
and anxieties which she was unable to communicate to a 

When ordinary men allow themselves to be worked up 
by common every-day difficulties into fever-fits of passion, 
we can give them nothing but a compassionate smile. 
But we look with a kind of awe on a spirit in which the 
seed of a great destiny has been sown, which must abide 
the unfolding of the germ, and neither dare nor can do 
anything to precipitate either the good or the ill, either 
the happiness or the misery, which is to arise out of it. 

Edward had sent an answer by Charlotte's messenger, 
who had come to him in his solitude. It was written 
with kindness and interest, but it was rather composed 
and serious than warm and affectionate. He had van- 
ished almost immediately after, and Charlotte could learn 
no news about him; till at last she accidentally found 
his name in the newspaper, where he was mentioned with 
honor among those who had most distinguished them- 
selves in a late important engagement. She now under- 


Elective Affinities 

stood the metnod which he had taken ; she perceived that 
he had escaped from great danger; only she was con- 
vinced at the same time that he would seek out greater; 
and it was all too clear to her that in every sense he 
would hardly be withheld from any extremity. 

She had to bear about this perpetual anxiety in her 
thoughts, and turn which way she would, there was no 
light in which she could look at it that would give her 

Ottilie, never dreaming of anything of this, had taken 
to the work in the chapel with the greatest interest, and 
she had easily obtained Charlotte's permission to go on 
with it regularly. So now all went swiftly forward, and 
the azure heaven was soon peopled with worthy inhabi- 
tants. By continual practise both Ottilie and the Archi- 
tect had gained more freedom with the last figures ; they 
became perceptibly better. The faces, too, which had 
been all left to the Architect to paint, showed by degrees 
a very singular peculiarity. They began all of them to 
resemble Ottilie. The neighborhood of the beautiful girl 
had made so strong an impression on the soul of the 
young man, who had no variety of faces preconceived in 
his mind, that by degrees, on the way from the eye to the 
hand, nothing was lost, and both worked in exact har- 
mony together. Enough ; one of the last faces succeeded 
perfectly; so that it seemed as if Ottilie herself was look- 
ing down out of the spaces of the sky. 

They had finished with the arching of the ceiling. The 
walls they proposed to leave plain, and only to cover 


Elective Affinities 

them over with a bright brown color. The delicate pil- 
lars and the quaintly molded ornaments were to be dis- 
tinguished from them by a dark shade. But as in such 
things one thing ever leads on to another, they determined 
at least on having festoons of flowers and fruit, which 
should, as it were, unite together heaven and earth. Here 
Ottilie was in her element. The gardens provided the 
most perfect patterns ; and although the wreaths were as 
rich as they could make them, it was all finished sooner 
than they had supposed possible. 

It was still looking rough and disorderly. The scaf- 
folding poles had been run together, the planks thrown 
one on the top of the other ; the uneven pavement was yet 
more disfigured by the party-colored stains of the paint 
which had been spilled over it. 

The Architect begged that the ladies would give him a 
week to himself, and during that time would not enter 
the chapel ; at the end of it, one fine evening, he came to 
them, and begged them both to go and see it. He did not 
wish to accompany them, he said, and at once took his 

"Whatever surprise he may have designed for us," 
said Charlotte, as soon as he was gone, "I can not myself 
just now go down there. You can go by yourself, and 
tell me all about it. No doubt he has been doing some- 
thing which we shall like. I will enjoy it first in your de- 
scription, and afterward it will be the more charming in 
the reality." 

Ottilie, who knew well that in many cases Char- 


Elective Affinities 

lotte took care to avoid everything which could produce 
emotion, and particularly disliked to be surprised, set off 
down the walk by herself, and looked round involuntarily 
for the Architect, who, however, was nowhere to be seen, 
and must have concealed himself somewhere. She 
walked into the church, which she found open. This had 
been finished before; it had been cleaned up, and service 
had been performed in it. She went on to the chapel 
door; its heavy mass, all overlaid with iron, yielded easily 
to her touch, and she found an unexpected sight in a 
familiar spot. 

A solemn, beautiful light streamed in through the one 
tall window. It was filled with stained glass, gracefully 
put together. The entire chapel had thus received a 
strange tone, and a peculiar genius was thrown over it. 
The beauty of the vaulted ceiling and the walls was set 
off by the elegance of the pavement, which was composed 
of peculiarly shaped tiles, fastened together with gypsum, 
and forming exquisite patterns as they lay. This and the 
colored glass for the windows the Architect had prepared 
without their knowledge, and a short time was sufficient 
to have it put in its place. 

Seats had been provided as well. Among the relics of 
the old church some finely carved chancel chairs had been 
discovered, which now were standing about at conven- 
ient places along the walls. 

The parts which she knew so well now meeting her as 
an unfamiliar whole delighted Ottilie. She stood still, 
walked up and down, looked and looked again; at last 


Elective Affinities 

she seated herself in one of the chairs, and it seemed, 
as she gazed up and down, as if she was, and yet was not 
as if she felt and did not feel as if all this would 
vanish from before her, and she would vanish from her- 
self; and it was only when the sun left the window, on 
which before it had been shining full, that she awoke to 
possession of herself, and hastened back to the castle. 

She did not hide from herself the strange epoch at 
which this surprise had occurred to her. It was the 
evening of Edward's birthday. Very differently she had 
hoped to keep it. How was not everything to be dressed 
out for this festival? and now all the splendor of the 
autumn flowers remained ungathered. Those sunflowers 
still turned their faces to the sky ; those asters still looked 
out with quiet, modest eye; and whatever of them all 
had been wound into wreaths had served as patterns for 
the decorating of a spot which, if it was not to remain 
a mere artist's fancy, was only adapted as a general 

And then she had to remember the impetuous eager- 
ness with which Edward had kept her birthday-feast. 
She thought of the newly erected lodge, under the roof 
of which they had promised themselves so much enjoy- 
ment. The fireworks flashed and hissed again before her 
eyes and ears ; the more lonely she was, the more keenly 
her imagination brought it all before her. But she felt 
herself only the more alone. She no longer leaned upon 
his arm, and she had no hope ever any more to rest her- 
self upon it. 


Elective Affinities 


"I have been struck with an observation of the young 

"In the case of the creative artist, as in that of the 
artisan, it is clear that man is least permitted to appro- 
priate to himself what is most entirely his own. His 
works forsake him as the birds forsake the nest in which 
they were hatched. 

"The fate of the architect is the strongest of all in this 
way. How often he expends his whole soul, his whole 
heart and passion, to produce buildings into which he 
himself may never enter. The halls of kings owe their 
magnificence to him; but he has no enjoyment of them 
in their splendor. In the temple he draws a partition line 
between himself and the Holy of Holies; he may never 
more set his foot upon the steps which he has laid down 
for the heart-thrilling ceremonial; as the goldsmith may 
only adore from far off the monstrance whose enamel 
and whose jewels he has himself set together. The 
builder surrenders to the rich man, with the key of his 
palace, all pleasure and all right there, and never shares 
with him in the enjoyment of it. And must not art in 
this way, step by step, draw off from the artist, when the 
work, like a child who is provided for, has no more to 
fall back upon its father ? And what a power there must 
be in art itself, for its own self-advancing, when it has 
been obliged to shape itself almost solely out of what was 


Elective Affinities 

open to all, only out of what was the property of every 
one, and therefore also of the artist!" 

"There is a conception among old nations which is 
awful, and may almost seem terrible. They pictured their 
forefathers to themselves sitting round on thrones, in 
enormous caverns, in silent converse; when a newcomer 
entered, if he were worthy enough, they rose up, and in- 
clined their heads to welcome him. Yesterday, as I was 
sitting in the chapel, and other carved chairs stood 
round like that in which I was, the thought of this came 
over me with a soft, pleasant feeling. Why can not you 
stay sitting here ? I said to myself : stay here sitting medi- 
tating with yourself long, long, long, till at last your 
friends come, and you rise up to them, and with a gentle 
inclination direct them to their places. The colored win- 
dow panes convert the day into a solemn twilight; and 
some one should set up for us an ever-burning lamp, 
that the night might not be utter darkness." 

"We may imagine ourselves in what situation we 
please, we always conceive ourselves as seeing. I believe 
men only dream that they may not cease to see. Some 
day, perhaps, the inner light will come out from within 
us, and we shall not any more require another. 

"The year dies away, the wind sweeps over the stubble, 
and there is nothing left to stir under its touch. But the 
red berries on yonder tall tree seem as if they would still 
remind us of brighter things; and the stroke of the 
thrasher's flail awakes the thought how much of nourish- 
ment and life lies buried in the sickled ear." 


Elective Affinities 


How strangely, after all this, with the sense so vividly 
impressed on her of mutability and perishableness, must 
Ottilie have been affected by the news which could not 
any longer be kept concealed from her, that Edward had 
exposed himself to the uncertain chances of war! Un- 
happily, none of the observations which she had occasion 
to make upon it escaped her. But it is well for us that 
man can only endure a certain degree of unhappiness; 
what is beyond that either annihilates him or passes by 
him and leaves him apathetic. There are situations in 
which hope and fear run together, in which they mutu- 
ally destroy one another, and lose themselves in a dull 
indifference. If it were not so, how could we bear to 
know of those who are most dear to us being in hourly 
peril, and yet go on as usual with our ordinary every-day 

It was, therefore, as if some good genius was caring 
for Ottilie; that, all at once, this stillness, in which she 
seemed to be sinking from loneliness and want of occu- 
pation, was suddenly invaded by a wild army, which, 
while it gave her externally abundance of employment, 
and so took her out of herself, at the same time awoke in 
her the consciousness of her own power. 


Elective Affinities 

Charlotte's daughter, Luciana, had scarcely left the 
school and gone out into the great world; scarcely had 
she found herself at her aunt's house in the midst of a 
large society than her anxiety to please produced its 
effect in really pleasing ; and a young, very wealthy man, 
soon experienced a passionate desire to make her his own. 
His large property gave him a right to have the best of 
everything for his use, and nothing seemed to be wanting 
to him except a perfect wife, for whom, as for the rest 
of his good fortune, he should be the envy of the world. 

This incident in her family had been for some time 
occupying Charlotte. It had engaged all her attention, 
and taken up her whole correspondence, except so far as 
this was directed to the obtaining news of Edward; so 
that latterly Ottilie had been left more than was usual 
to herself. She knew, indeed, of an intended visit from 
Luciana. She had been making various changes and 
arrangements in the house in preparation for it; but she 
had no notion that it was so near. Letters, she supposed, 
would first have to pass, settling the time, and then un- 
settling it; and then a final fixing; when the storm broke 
suddenly over the castle and over herself. 

Up drove, first, lady's maids and men-servants, their 
carriage loaded with trunks and boxes. The household 
was already swelled to double or to treble its size, and 
then appeared the visitors themselves. There was the 
great-aunt, with Luciana and some of her friends; and 
then the bridegroom with some of his friends. The 
entrance-hall was full of things bags, portmanteaus, 


Elective Affinities 

and leather articles of every sort. The boxes had to be 
got out of their covers, and that was infinite trouble; 
and of luggage and of rummage there was no end. At 
intervals, morever, there were violent showers, giving 
rise to much inconvenience. Ottilie encountered all this 
confusion with the easiest equanimity, and her happy 
talent showed in its fairest light. In a very little time 
she had brought things to order, and disposed of them. 
Every one found his room every one had his things 
exactly as he wished, and all thought themselves well 
attended to, because they were not prevented from at- 
tending to themselves. 

The journey had been long and fatiguing, and they 
would all have been glad of a little rest after it. The 
bridegroom would have liked to pay his respects to his 
mother-in-law, express his pleasure, his gratitude, and so 
on. But Luciana could not rest. She had now arrived 
at the happiness of being able to mount a horse. The 
bridegroom had beautiful horses, and mount they must 
on the spot. Clouds and wind, rain and storm, they were 
nothing to Luciana, and now it was as if they only lived 
to get wet through, and to dry themselves again. If 
she took a fancy to go out walking, she never thought 
what sort of dress she had on, or what her shoes were 
like, she must go and see the grounds of which she had 
heard so much; what could not be done on horseback 
she ran through on foot. In a little while she had seen 
everything, and given her opinion about everything; and 
with such rapidity of character it was not easy to con- 


Elective Affinities 

tradict or oppose her. The whole household had much 
to suffer, but most particularly the lady's maids, who 
were at work from morning to night, washing, and 
ironing, and stitching. 

As soon as she had exhausted the house and the park, 
she thought it was her duty to pay visits all round the 
neighborhood. As they rode and drove very fast, all 
round the neighborhood was a considerable distance. The 
castle was flooded with return visits, and that they might 
not miss one another, it soon came to days being fixed 
for them. 

Charlotte, in the meantime, with her aunt, and the 
man of business of the bridegroom, were occupied in 
determining about the settlements, and it was left to 
Ottilie, with those under her, to take care that all this 
crowd of people were properly provided for. Game- 
keepers and gardeners, fishermen and shopdealers, were 
set in motion, Luciana always showing herself like the 
blazing nucleus of a comet with its long tail trailing 
behind it. The ordinary amusements of the parties soon 
became too insipid for her taste. Hardly would she 
leave the old people in peace at the card-table. Who- 
ever could by any means be set moving (and who could 
resist the charm of being pressed by her into service?) 
must up, if not to dance, then to play at forfeits, or some 
other game, where they were to be victimized and tor- 
mented. Notwithstanding all that, however, and al- 
though afterward the redemption of the forfeits had to 
be settled with herself, yet of those who played with 


Elective Affinities 

her, never any one, especially never any man, let him be 
of what sort he would, went quite empty-handed away. 
Indeed, some old people of rank who were there she 
succeeded in completely winning over to herself, by hav- 
ing contrived to find out their birthdays or christening 
days, and marking them with some particular celebration. 
In all this she showed a skill not a little remarkable. 
Every one saw himself favored, and each considered him- 
self to be the one most favored, a weakness of which the 
oldest person of the party was the most notably guilty. 

It seemed to be a sort of pride with her that men who 
had anything remarkable about them rank, character, 
or fame she must and would gain for herself. Gravity 
and seriousness she made give way to her, and, wild 
strange creature as she was, she found favor even with 
discretion itself. Not that the young were at all cut 
short in consequence. Everybody had his share, his day, 
his hour, in which she contrived to charm and to enchain 
him. It was, therefore, natural enough that before long 
she should have had the Architect in her eye, looking out 
so unconsciously as he did from under his long black hair, 
and standing so calm and quiet in the background. To 
all her questions she received short, sensible answers; 
but he did not seem inclined to allow himself to be car- 
ried away further, and at last, half provoked, half in 
malice, she resolved that she would make him the hero 
of a day, and so gain him for her court. 

It was not for nothing that she had brought that quan- 
tity of luggage with her. Much, indeed, had followed 


Elective Affinities 

her afterward. She had provided herself with an end- 
less variety of dresses. When it took her fancy she 
would change her dress three or four times a day, usu- 
ally wearing something of an ordinary kind, but making 
her appearance suddenly at intervals in a thorough mas- 
querade dress, as a peasant girl or a fish maiden, as a 
fairy or a flower-girl ; and this would go on from morn- 
ing till night. Sometimes she would even disguise her- 
self as an old woman, that her young face might peep 
out the fresher from under the cap; and so utterly in 
this way did she confuse and mix together the actual 
and the fantastic, that people thought they were living 
with a sort of drawing-room witch. 

But the principal use which she had for these disguises 
were pantomimic tableaux and dances, in which she was 
skilful in expressing a variety of character. A cavalier 
in her suite had taught himself to accompany her action 
on the piano with the little music which was required; 
they needed only to exchange a few words, and they at 
once understood one another. 

One day, in a pause of a brilliant ball, they were called 
upon suddenly to extemporize (it was on a private hint 
from themselves) one of these exhibitions. Luciana 
seemed embarrassed, taken by surprise, and contrary to 
her custom let herself be asked more than once. She 
could not decide upon her character, desired the party to 
choose, and asked, like an improvisator, for a subject. 
At last her piano-playing companion, with whom it had 
been all previously arranged, sat down at the instrument, 

(A) 10 VOL. 2 

Elective Affinities 

and began to play a mourning march, calling on her to 
give them the Artemisia which she had been studying so 
admirably. She consented; and after a short absence 
reappeared, to the sad, tender music of the dead march, 
in the form of the royal widow, with measured step, 
carrying an urn of ashes before her. A large black tablet 
was borne in after her, and a carefully cut piece of chalk 
in a gold pencil case. 

One of her adorers and adjutants, into whose ear she 
whispered something, went directly to call the Architect, 
to desire him, and if he would not come to drag him up, 
as master-builder, to draw the grave for the mausoleum, 
and to tell him at the same time that he was not to play 
the statist, but enter earnestly into his part as one of the 

Embarrassed as the Architect outwardly appeared ( for 
in his black, close-fitting, modern civilian's dress he 
formed a wonderful contrast with the gauze crape 
fringes, tinsel tassels, and crown), he very soon com- 
posed himself internally, and the scene became all the 
more strange. With the greatest gravity he placed him- 
self in front of the tablet, which was supported by a 
couple of pages, and drew carefully an elaborate tomb, 
which indeed would have suited better a Lombard than 
a Carian prince; but it was in such beautiful propor- 
tions, so solemn in its parts, so full of genius in its decora- 
tion, that the spectators watched it growing with delight, 
and wondered at it when it was finished. 

All this time he had not once turned toward the queen, 


Elective Affinities 

but had given his whole attention to what he was doing. 
At last he inclined his head before her, and signified that 
he believed he had now fulfilled her commands. She 
held the urn out to him, expressing her desire to see it 
represented on the top of the monument. He complied, 
although unwillingly, as it would not suit the character 
of the rest of his design. Luciana was now at last re- 
leased from her impatience. Her intention had been by 
no means to get a scientific drawing out of him. If he 
had only made a few strokes, sketched out something 
which should have looked like a monument, and devoted 
the rest of his time to her, it would have been far more 
what she had wished, and would have pleased her a great 
deal better. His manner of proceeding had thrown her 
into the greatest embarrassment. For although in her 
sorrow, in her directions, in her gestures, in her appro- 
bation of the work as it slowly rose before her, she had 
tried to manage some sort of change of expression, and 
although she had hung about close to him, only to place 
herself into some sort of relation to him, yet he had kept 
himself throughout too stiff, so that too often she had 
been driven to take refuge with her urn ; she had to press 
it to her heart and look up to heaven, and at last, a situa- 
tion of that kind having a necessary tendency to inten- 
sify, she made herself more like a widow of Ephesus than 
a Queen of Caria. The representation Had to lengthen 
itself out and became tedious. The pianoforte player, 
who had usually patience enough, did not know into 
what tune he could escape. He thanked God when he 


Elective Affinities 

saw the urn standing on the pyramid, and fell involun- 
tarily, as the queen was going to express her gratitude, 
into a merry air; by which the whole thing lost its 
character, the company, however, being thoroughly 
cheered up by it, who forthwith divided, some going 
up to express their delight and admiration of the 
lady for her excellent performance, and some praising 
the Architect for his most artist-like and beautiful 

The bridegroom especially paid marked attention to 
the Architect. "I am vexed/' he said, "that the drawing 
should be so perishable ; you will permit me, however, to 
have it taken to my room, where I should much like to 
talk to you about it." 

"If it would give you any pleasure," said the Archi- 
tect, "I can lay before you a number of highly finished 
designs for buildings and monuments of this kind, of 
which this is but a mere hasty sketch." 

Ottilie was standing at no great distance, and went up 
to them. "Do not forget," she said to the Architect, "to 
take an opportunity of letting the Baron see your collec- 
tion. He is a friend of art and of antiquity. I should 
like you to become better acquainted." 

Luciana was passing at the moment. "What are they 
speaking of ?" she asked. 

"Of a collection of works of art," replied the Baron, 
"which this gentleman possesses, and which he is good 
enough to say that he will show us." 

"Oh, let him bring them immediately," cried Luciana. 


Elective Affinities 

"You will bring them, will you not?" she added, in a 
soft and sweet tone, taking both his hands in hers. 

"The present is scarcely a fitting time/' the Architect 

"What!" Luciana cried, in a tone of authority; "you 
will not obey the command of your queen !" and then she 
begged him again with some piece of absurdity. 

"Do not be obstinate," said Ottilie, in a scarcely audi- 
ble voice. 

The Architect left them with a bow, which said neither 
yes nor no. 

He was hardly gone, when Luciana was flying up and 
down the saloon with a greyhound. "Alas!" she ex- 
claimed, as she ran accidentally against her mother, "am 
I not an unfortunate creature? I have not brought my 
monkey with me. They told me I had better not; but 
I am sure it was nothing but the laziness of my people, 
and it is such a delight to me. But I will have it brought 
after me; somebody shall go and fetch it. If I could only 
see a picture of the dear creature, it would be a comfort 
to me ; I certainly will have his picture taken, and it shall 
never be out of my sight." 

"Perhaps I can comfort you," replied Charlotte. 
"There is a whole volume full of the most wonderful ape 
faces in the library, which you can have fetched if you 

Luciana shrieked for joy. The great folio was pro- 
duced instantly. The sight of these hideous creatures, 
so like to men, and with the resemblance even more cari- 


Elective Affinities 

catured by the artist, gave Luciana the greatest delight. 
Her amusement with each of the animals was to find 
some one of her acquaintance whom it resembled. "Is 
that not like my uncle?" she remorselessly exclaimed; 
"and here, look, here is my milliner M., and here is 

Parson S., and here the image of that creature 

bodily! After all, these monkeys are the real dandies, 
and it is inconceivable why they are not admitted into the 
best society." 

It was in the best society that she said this, and yet 
no one took it ill of her. People had become accustomed 
to allow her so many liberties in her prettinesses that at 
last they came to allow them in what was unpretty. 

During this time, Ottilie was talking to the bridegroom ; 
she was looking anxiously for the return of the Architect, 
whose serious and tasteful collection was to deliver the 
party from the apes; and in the expectation of it, she 
had made it the subject of her conversation with the 
Baron, and directed his attention on various things which 
he was to see. But the Architect stayed away, and when 
at last he made his appearance he lost himself in the 
crowd, without having brought anything with him, and 
without seeming as if he had been asked for anything. 

For a moment Ottilie became what shall we call it? 
annoyed, put out, perplexed. She had been saying so 
much about him she had promised the bridegroom an 
hour of enjoyment after his own heart; and with all the 
depth of his love for Luciana he was evidently suffer- 
ing from her present behavior. 


Elective Affinities 

The monkeys had to give place to a collation. Round 
games followed, and then more dancing; at last, a gen- 
eral uneasy vacancy, with fruitless attempts at resusci- 
tating exhausted amusements, which lasted this time, as 
indeed they usually did, far beyond midnight. It had 
already become a habit with Luciana to be never able 
to get out of bed in the morning or into it at night. 

About this time, the incidents noticed in Ottilie's diary 
became more rare, while we find a larger number of 
maxims and sentences drawn from life and relating to 
life. It is not conceivable that the larger proportion of 
these could have arisen from her own reflection, and 
most likely some one had shown her varieties of them, 
and she had written out what took her fancy. Many, 
however, with an internal bearing, can be easily recog- 
nized by the red thread. 


"We like to look into the future, because the undeter- 
mined in it, which may be affected this or that way, we 
feel as if we could guide by our silent wishes in our own 

"We seldom find ourselves in a large party without 
thinking; the accident which brings so many here to- 
gether should bring our friends to us as well." 

"Let us live in as small a circle as we will, we are 
either debtors or creditors before we have had time to 
look round." 

"If we meet a person who is under an obligation to us, 


Elective Affinities 

we remember it immediately. But how often may we 
meet people to whom we are ourselves under obligation, 
without its even occurring to us!" 

"It is nature to communicate one's self ; it is culture to 
receive what is communicated as it is given." 

"No one would talk much in society, if he only knew 
how often he misunderstands others." 

"One alters so much what one has heard from others 
in repeating it only because one has not understood it." 

"Whoever indulges long in monologue in the presence 
of others, without flattering his listeners, provokes ill- 

"Every word a man utters provokes the opposite 

"Argument and flattery are but poor elements out of 
which to form a conversation." 

"The pleasantest society is when the members of it 
have an easy and natural respect for one another." 

"There is nothing in which people more betray their 
character than in what they find to laugh at." 

"The ridiculous arises out of a moral contrast, in 
which two things are brought together before the mind 
in an innocent way." 

"The foolish man often laughs where there is nothing 
to laugh at. Whatever touches him, his inner nature 
comes to the surface." 

"The man of understanding finds almost everything 
ridiculous; the man of thought scarcely anything." 

"Some one found fault with an elderly man for con- 


Elective Affinities 

tinuing to pay attention to young ladies. 'It is the only 
means/ he replied, 'of keeping one's self young, and 
everybody likes to do that.' ' 

"People will allow their faults to be shown them; 
they will let themselves be punished for them; they will 
patiently endure many things because of them ; they only 
become impatient when they have to lay them aside." 

"Certain defects are necessary for the existence of in- 
dividuality. We should not be pleased, if old friends 
were to lay aside certain peculiarities." 

"There is a saying, 'He will die soon,' when a man acts 
unlike himself." 

"What kind of defects may we bear with and even 
cultivate in ourselves? Such as rather give pleasure to 
others than injure them." 

"The passions are defects or excellencies only in 

"Our passions are true phenixes : as the old burn out, 
the new straight rise up out of the ashes." 

"Violent passions are incurable diseases; the means 
which will cure them are what first make them thoroughly 

"Passion is both raised and softened by confession. In 
nothing, perhaps, were the middle way more desirable 
than in knowing what to say and what not to say to those 
we love." 


Elective Affinities 


So swept on Luciana in the social whirlpool, driving 
the rush of life along before her. Her court multiplied 
daily, partly because her impetuosity roused and attracted 
so many, partly because she knew how to attach the rest 
to her by kindness and attention. Generous she was in 
the highest degree; her aunt's affection for her, and her 
bridegroom's love, had heaped her with beautiful and 
costly presents, but she seemed as if nothing which she 
had was her own, and as if she did not know the value 
of the things which had streamed in upon her. One day 
she saw a young lady looking rather poorly dressed by 
the side of the rest of the party, and she did not hesitate 
a moment to take off a rich shawl which she was wear- 
ing and hang it over her doing it, at the same time, in 
such a humorous, graceful way that no one could refuse 
such a present so given. One of her courtiers always 
carried about a purse, with orders, whatever place they 
passed through, to inquire there for the most aged and 
most helpless persons, and give them relief, at least for 
the moment. In this way she gained for herself all 
round the country a reputation for charitableness which 
caused her not a little inconvenience, attracting about 
her far too many troublesome sufferers. 


Elective Affinities 

Nothing, however, so much added to her popularity as 
her steady and consistent kindness towards an unhappy 
young man, who shrank from society because, while 
otherwise handsome and well-formed, he had lost his 
right hand, although with high honor, in action. This 
mutilation weighed so heavily upon his spirits, it was so 
annoying to him that every new acquaintance he made 
had to be told the story of his misfortune, that he 
chose rather to shut himself up altogether, devoting 
himself to reading and other studious pursuits, and 
once for all would have nothing more to do with 

She heard of the state of this young man. At once she 
contrived to prevail upon him to come to her, first to 
small parties, then to greater, and then out into the world 
with her. She showed more attention to him than to 
any other person; particularly she endeavored, by the 
services which she pressed upon him, to make him sensi- 
ble of what he had lost in laboring herself to supply it. 
At dinner she would make him sit next to her ; she cut up 
his food for him, that he might only have to use his 
fork. If people older or of higher rank prevented her 
from being close to him, she would stretch her attention 
across the entire table, and the servants were hurried off 
to make up to him what distance threatened to deprive 
him of. At last she encouraged him to write with his 
left hand. All his attempts he was to address to her 
and thus, whether far or near, she always kept herself 
in correspondence with him. The young man did not 


Elective Affinities 

know what had happened to him, and from that moment 
a new life opened out before him. 

One may perhaps suppose that such behavior must 
have caused some uneasiness to her bridegroom. But, 
in fact, it was quite the reverse. He admired her exceed- 
ingly for her exertions, and he had the more reason for 
feeling entirely satisfied about her, as she had certain 
features in her character almost in excess, which kept 
anything in the slightest degree dangerous utterly at a 
distance. She would run about with anybody, just as she 
fancied; no one was free from danger of a push or a 
pull, or of being made the object of some sort of freak. 
But no person ever ventured to do the same to her; no 
person dared to touch her, or return, in the remotest de- 
gree, any liberty which she had taken herself. She kept 
every one within the strictest barriers of propriety in 
their behavior to herself, while she, in her own behavior, 
was every moment overleaping them. 

On the whole, one might have supposed it had been a 
maxim with her to expose herself indifferently to praise 
or blame, to regard or to dislike. If in many ways she 
took pains to gain people, she commonly herself spoiled 
all the good she had done, by an ill tongue, which spared 
no one. Not a visit was ever paid in the neighborhood, 
not a single piece of hospitality was ever shown to her- 
self and her party among the surrounding castles or man- 
sions, but what on her return her excessive recklessness 
let it appear that all men and all human things she was 
only inclined to see on the ridiculous side. 


Elective Affinities 

There were three brothers who, purely out of compli- 
ment to each other, which should marry first, had been 
overtaken by old age before they had got the question 
settled ; here was a little young wife with a great old hus- 
band; there, on the other hand, was a dapper little man 
and an unwieldy giantess. In one house, every step one 
took one stumbled over a child; another, however many 
people were crammed into it, never would seem full, be- 
cause there were no children there at all. Old husbands 
(supposing the estate was not entailed) should get them- 
selves buried as quickly as possible, that such a thing as 
a laugh might be heard again in the house. Young mar- 
ried people should travel : housekeeping did not sit well 
upon them. And as she treated the persons, so she treated 
what belonged to them ; their houses, their furniture, their 
dinner-services everything. The ornaments of the walls 
of the rooms most particularly provoked her saucy re- 
marks. From the oldest tapestry to the most modern 
printed paper; from the noblest family pictures to the 
most frivolous new copperplate : one as well as the other 
had to suffer one as well as the other had to be pulled 
in pieces by her satirical tongue, so that, indeed, one had 
to wonder how, for twenty miles round, anything con- 
tinued to exist. 

It was not, perhaps, exactly malice which produced all 
this destructiveness ; wilf ulness and selfishness were what 
ordinarily set her off upon it: but a genuine bitterness 
grew up in her feelings toward Ottilie. 

She looked down with disdain on the calm, uninter- 


Elective Affinities 

rupted activity of the sweet girl, which every one had 
observed and admired, and when something was said of 
the care which Ottilie took of the garden and of the hot- 
houses, she not only spoke scornfully of it, in affecting 
to be surprised, if it were so, at there being neither flowers 
nor fruit to be seen, not caring to consider that they were 
living in the depth of winter, but every faintest scrap of 
green, every leaf, every bud which showed, she chose to 
have picked every day and squandered on ornamenting 
the rooms and tables, and Ottilie and the gardener were 
not a little distressed to see their hopes for the next year, 
and perhaps for a longer time, destroyed in this wanton 

As little would she be content to leave Ottilie to her 
quiet work at home, in which she could live with so much 
comfort. Ottilie must go with them on their pleasure- 
parties and sledging-parties ; she must be at the balls 
which were being got up all about the neighborhood. 
She was not to mind the snow, or the cold, or the night- 
air, or the storm ; other people did not die of such things, 
and why should she? The delicate girl suffered not a 
little from it all, but Luciana gained nothing. For al- 
though Ottilie went about very simply dressed, she was 
always, at least so the men thought, the most beautiful 
person present. A soft attractiveness gathered them all 
about her; no matter whereabouts in the great rooms 
she was, first or last, it was always the same. Even 
Luciana's bridegroom was constantly occupied with her; 
the more so, indeed, because he desired her advice and 


Elective Affinities 

assistance in a matter with which he was just then 

He had cultivated the acquaintance of the Architect. 
On seeing his collection of works of art, he had taken 
occasion to talk much with him on history and on other 
matters, and especially from seeing the chapel had learned 
to appreciate his talent. The Baron was young and 
wealthy. He was a collector; he wished to build. His 
love for the arts was keen, his knowledge small. In the 
Architect he thought that he had found the man he 
wanted ; that with his assistance there was more than one 
aim at which he could arrive at once. He had spoken to 
his bride of what he wished. She praised him for it, 
and was infinitely delighted with the proposal. But it 
was more, perhaps, that she might carry off this young 
man from Ottilie (for whom she fancied she saw in him 
a kind of inclination) than because she thought of apply- 
ing his talents to any purpose. He had shown himself, 
indeed, very ready to help at any of her extemporized 
festivities, and had suggested various resources for this 
thing and that. 

But she always thought she understood better than he 
what should be done, and as her inventive genius was 
usually somewhat common, her designs could be as well 
executed with the help of a tolerably handy domestic 
as with that of the most finished artist. Further than 
to an altar on which something was to be offered, or 
to a crowning, whether of a living head or of one of 
plaster of Paris, the force of her imagination could not 


Elective Affinities 

ascend, when a birthday, or other such occasion, made 
her wish to pay some one an especial compliment. 

Ottilie was able to give the Baron the most satisfac- 
tory answer to his inquiries as to the relation of the 
Architect with their family. Charlotte had already, as she 
was aware, been exerting herself to find some situation 
for him; had it not been indeed for the arrival of the 
party, the young man would have left them immediately 
on the completion of the chapel, the winter having brought 
all building operations to a standstill ; and it was, there- 
fore, most fortunate if a new patron could be found to 
assist him, and to make use of his talents. 

Ottilie's own personal position with the Architect was 
as pure and unconscious as possible. His agreeable pres- 
ence, and his industrious nature, had charmed and enter- 
tained her, as the presence of an elder brother might. 
Her feelings for him remained at the calm, unimpassioned 
level of blood relationship. For in her heart there was 
no room for more ; it was filled to overflowing with love 
for Edward; only God, who interpenetrates all things, 
could share with him the possession of that heart. 

Meantime the winter sank deeper; the weather grew 
wilder, the roads more impracticable, and therefore it 
seemed all the pleasanter to spend the waning days in 
agreeable society. With short intervals of ebb, the 
crowd from time to time flooded up over the house. 
Officers found their way there from distant garrison 
towns ; the cultivated among them being a most welcome 
addition, the ruder the inconvenience of every one. Of 


Elective Affinities 

civilians too there was no lack; and one day the Count 
and the Baroness quite unexpectedly came driving up 

Their presence gave the castle the air of a thorough 
court. The men of rank and character formed a circle 
about the Baron, and the ladies yielded precedence to the 
Baroness. The surprise at seeing both together, and in 
such high spirits, was not allowed to be of long continu- 
ance. It came out that the Count's wife was dead, am 
the new marriage was to take place as soon as ever 
decency would allow it. 

Well did Ottilie remember their first visit, and every 
word which was then uttered about marriage and separa- 
tion, binding and dividing, hope, expectation, disappoint- 
ment, renunciation. Here were these two persons, at 
that time without prospect for the future, now standing 
before her, so near their wished-for happiness, and an 
involuntary sigh escaped out of her heart. 

No sooner did Luciana hear that the Count was an 
amateur of music than at once she must get up something 
of a concert. She herself would sing and accompany her- 
self on the guitar. It was done. The instrument she did 
not play without skill; her voice was agreeable: as for 
the words one understood about as little of them as one 
commonly does when a German beauty sings to the gui- 
tar. However, every one assured her that she had sung 
with exquisite expression, and she found quite enough 
approbation to satisfy her. 'A singular misfortune befell 
her, however, on this occasion. Among the party there 


Elective Affinities 

happened to be a poet, whom she hoped particularly to 
attach to herself, wishing to induce him to write a song 
or two, and address them to her. This evening, there- 
fore, she produced scarcely anything except songs of his 
composing. Like the rest of the party, he was perfectly 
courteous to her, but she had looked for more. She 
spoke to him several times, going as near the subject as 
she dared, but nothing further could she get. At last, 
unable to bear it any longer, she sent one of her train to 
him, to sound him and find out whether he had not been 
delighted to hear his beautiful poems so beautifully 

"My poems?" he replied, with amazement; "pray ex- 
cuse me, my dear sir," he added, "I heard nothing but the 
vowels, and not all of those ; however, I am in duty bound 
to express all gratitude for so amiable an intention." The 
dandy said nothing and kept his secret; the other en- 
deavored to get himself out of the scrape by a few well- 
timed compliments. She did not conceal her desire to 
have something of his which should be written for her. 

If it would not have been too ill-natured, he might 
have handed her the alphabet, to imagine for herself, out 
of that, such laudatory poem as would please her, and 
set it to the first melody that came to hand ; but she was 
not to escape out of this business without mortification. 
A short time after, she had to learn that the very same 
evening he had written, at the foot of one of Ottilie's 
favorite melodies, a most lovely poem, which was some- 
thing more than complimentary. 


Elective Affinities 

Luciana, like all persons of her sort, who never can 
distinguish between where they show to advantage and 
where to disadvantage, now determined to try her for- 
tune in reciting. Her memory was good, but, if the 
truth must be told, her execution was spiritless, and she 
was vehement without being passionate. She recited 
ballad stories, and whatever else is usually delivered in 
declamation. At the same time she had contracted an 
unhappy habit of accompanying what she delivered with 
gestures, by which, in a disagreeable way, what is purely 
epic and lyric is more confused than connected with the 

The County keen-sighted man, soon saw through the 
party, their inclinations, dispositions, wishes, and capa- 
bilities, and by some means or other contrived to bring 
Luciana to a new kind of exhibition which was perfectly 
suited to her. 

"I see here," he said, "a number of persons with fine 
figures, who would surely be able to imitate pictorial emo- 
tions and postures. Suppose they were to try, if the 
thing is new to them, to represent some real and well- 
known picture. An imitation of this kind, if it requires 
some labor in arrangement, has an inconceivably charm- 
ing effect." 

Luciana was quick enough in perceiving that here she 
was on her own ground entirely. Her fine shape, her 
well-rounded form, the regularity and yet expressiveness 
of her features, her light-brown braided hair, her long 
neck she ran them all over in her mind, and calcu- 


Elective Affinities 

lated on their pictorial effects, and if she had only known 
that her beauty showed to more advantage when she was 
still than when she was in motion, because in the last 
case certain ungracefulnesses continually escaped her, she 
would have entered even more eagerly than she did into 
this natural picture-making. 

They looked out the engravings of celebrated pictures, 
and the first which they chose was VanDyckV'Belisarius." 
A large, well-proportioned man, somewhat advanced in 
years, was to represent the seated, blind general. The 
Architect was to be the affectionate soldier standing sor- 
rowing before him, there really being some resemblance 
between them. Luciana, half from modesty, had chosen 
the part of the young woman in the background, count- 
ing out some large alms into the palm of his hand, while 
an old woman beside her is trying to prevent her, and 
representing that she is giving too much. Another 
woman, who is in the act of giving him something, was 
not forgotten. Into this and other pictures they threw 
themselves with all earnestness. The Count gave the 
Architect a few hints as to the best style of arrangement, 
and he at once set up a kind of theatre, all necessary pains 
being taken for the proper lighting of it. They were 
already deep in the midst of their preparations before 
they observed how large an outlay what they were under- 
taking would require, and that in the country, in the 
middle of winter, many things which they required it 
would be difficult to procure; consequently, to prevent 
a stoppage, Luciana had nearly her whole wardrobe cut 


Elective Affinities 

in pieces, to supply the various costumes which the orig- 
inal artist had arbitrarily selected. 

The appointed evening came, and the exhibition was 
carried out in the presence of a large assemblage, and to 
the universal satisfaction. They had some good music 
to excite expectation, and the performance opened with 
the "Belisarius." The figures were so successful, the colors 
were so happily distributed, and the lighting managed so 
skilfully, that they might really have fancied themselves 
in another world, only that the presence of the real in- 
stead of the apparent produced a kind of uncomfortable 

The curtain fell, and was more than once raised again 
by general desire. A musical interlude kept the assem- 
bly amused while preparation was going forward to sur- 
prise them with a picture of a higher stamp; it was the 
well-known design of Poussin, "Ahasuerus and Esther." 
This time Luciana had done better for herself. As the 
fainting, sinking queen she had put out all her charms, and 
for the attendant maidens who were supporting her she 
had cunningly selected pretty well-shaped figures, not one 
among whom, however, had the slightest pretension to 
be compared with herself. From this picture, as from 
all the rest, Ottilie remained excluded. To sit on the 
golden throne and represent the Zeus-like monarch, Lu- 
ciana had picked out the finest and handsomest man of 
the party, so that this picture was really of inimitable 

For a third they had taken the so-called "Father's Ad- 


Elective Affinities 

monition" of Terburg, and who does not know Willed 
admirable engraving of this picture? One foot thrown 
over the other, sits a noble knightly-looking father; his 
daughter stands before him, to whose conscience he seems 
to be addressing himself. She, a fine, striking figure, in 
a folding drapery of white satin, is only to be seen from 
behind, but her whole bearing appears to signify that she 
is collecting herself. That the admonition is not too 
severe, that she is not being utterly put to shame, is to 
be gathered from the air and attitude of the father, while 
the mother seems as if she were trying to conceal some 
slight embarrassment she is looking into a glass of 
wine, which she is on the point of drinking. 

Here was an opportunity for Luciana to appear in her 
highest splendor. Her back hair, the form of her head, 
neck, and shoulders, were beyond all conception beauti- 
ful; and the waist, which in the modern antique of the 
ordinary dresses of young ladies is hardly visible, showed 
to the greatest advantage in all its graceful slender ele- 
gance in the really old costume. The Architect had cn- 
trived to dispose the rich folds of the white satin with 
the most exquisite nature, and, without any question what- 
ever, this living imitation far exceeded the original pic- 
ture, and produced universal delight. 

The spectators could never be satisfied with demanding 
a repetition of the performance, and the very natural wish 
to see the face and front of so lovely a creature, when 
they had done looking at her from behind, at last became 
so decided that a merry, impatient young wit cried out 


Elective Affinities 

aloud the words one is accustomed to write at the bot- 
tom of a page, "Please turn over," which was echoed all 
round the room. 

The performers, however, understood their advantage 
too well, and had mastered too completely the idea of 
these works of art to yield to the most general clamor. 
The daughter remained standing in her shame, without 
favoring the spectators with the expression of her face. 
The father continued to sit in his attitude of admonition, 
and the mother did not lift nose or eyes out of the trans- 
parent glass, in which, although she seemed to be drink- 
ing, the wine did not diminish. 

We need not describe the number of smaller after- 
pieces; for which had been chosen Flemish public-house 
scenes and fair and market days. 

The Count and the Baroness departed, promising to 
return in the first happy weeks of their approaching union. 
And Charlotte now had hopes, after having endured two 
weary months of it, of ridding herself of the rest of the 
party at the same time. She was assured of her daugh- 
ter's happiness, as soon as the first tumult of youth and 
betrothal should have subsided in her ; for the bridegroom 
considered himself the most fortunate person in the 
world. His income was large, his disposition moderate 
and rational, and now he found himself further wonder- 
fully favored in the happiness of becoming the possessor 
of a young lady with whom all the world must be 
charmed. He had so peculiar a way of referring every- 
thing to her, and only to himself through her, that it 


Elective Affinities 

gave him an unpleasant feeling when any newly arrived 
person did not devote himself heart and soul to her, and 
was far from flattered if, as occasionally happened, par- 
ticularly with elderly men, he neglected her for a close 
intimacy with himself. Everything was settled about 
the Architect. On New Year's Day he was to follow 
him, and spend the Carnival at his house in the city, 
where Luciana was promising herself infinite happiness 
from a repetition of her charmingly successful pictures, 
as well as from a hundred other things; all the more as 
her aunt and her bridegroom seemed to make so light 
of the expense which was required for her amusements. 
And now they were to break up. But this could not 
be managed in an ordinary way. They were one day 
making fun of Charlotte aloud, declaring that they would 
soon have eaten out her winter stores, when the noble- 
man who had represented Belisarius, being fortunately a 
man of some wealth, carried away by Luciana's charms, 
to which he had been so long devoting himself, cried out 
unthinkingly, "Why not manage them in the Polish fash- 
ion? you come now and eat up me, and then we will go 
on round the circle." No sooner said than done. Lu- 
ciana willed that it should be so. The next day they 
all packed up and the swarm alighted on a new property. 
There indeed they found room enough, but few con- 
veniences and no preparations to receive them. Out of 
this arose many unforeseen difficulties, which entirely 
enchanted Luciana; their life became ever wilder and 
wilder. Huge hunting-parties were set on foot in the 


Elective Affinities 

deep snow, attended with every sort of disagreeableness ; 
women were not allowed to excuse themselves any more 
than men, and so they trooped on, hunting and riding, 
sledging and shouting, from one place to another till at 
last they approached the residence, and there the news 
of the day and the scandals and what else forms the 
amusement of people at courts and cities gave the im- 
agination another direction, and Luciana with her train 
of attendants (her aunt had gone on some time before) 
swept at once into a new sphere of life. 


"We accept every person in the world as that for 
which he gives himself out, only he must give himself 
out for something. We can put up with the unpleasant 
more easily than we can endure the insignificant." 

"We venture upon anything in society except only 
what involves a consequence." 

"We never learn to know people when they come to 
us: we must go to them to find out how things stand 
with them." 

"I find it almost natural that we should see many 
faults in visitors, and that directly they are gone we 
should judge them not in the most amiable manner. For 
we have, so to say, a right to measure them by our own 
standard. Even cautious, sensible men can scarcely keep 
themselves in such cases from being sharp censors." 

"When, on the contrary, we are staying at the houses 
of others, -when we have seen them in the midst of all 

(A) ii VOL. 2 

Elective Affinities 

their habits and environments among those necessary 
conditions from which they can not escape, when we 
have seen how they affect those about them, and how 
they adapt themselves to their circumstances, it is igno- 
rance, it is worse, it is ill-will, to find ridiculous what in 
more than one sense has a claim on our respect." 

"That which we call politeness and good breeding 
effects what otherwise can only be obtained by violence, 
or not even by that." 

"Intercourse with women is the element of good 

"How can the character, the individuality of a man 
coexist with polish of manner?" 

"The individuality can only be properly made promi- 
nent through good manners. Every one likes what has 
something in it, only it must not be a disagreeable some- 

"In life generally, and in society, no one has such high 
advantages as a well-cultivated soldier." 

"The rudest fighting people at least do not go out of 
their character, and generally behind the roughness there 
is a certain latent good humor, so that in difficulties it is 
possible to get on even with them." 

"No one is more intolerable than an underbred civilian. 
From him one has a right to look for a delicacy, as he 
has no rough work to do." 

"When we are living with people who have a delicate 
sense of propriety, we are in misery on their account 
when anything unbecoming is committed. So I always 


Elective Affinities 

feel for and with Charlotte when a person is tipping his 
chair. She can not endure it." 

"No one would ever come into a mixed party with 
spectacles on his nose, if he did but know that at once we 
women lose all pleasure in looking at him or listening 
to what he has to say." 

"Free-and-easiness, where there ought to be respect, 
is always ridiculous. No one would put his hat down 
when he had scarcely paid the ordinary compliments if 
he knew how comical it looks." 

"There is no outward sign of courtesy that does not 
rest on a deep moral foundation. The proper education 
would be that which communicated the sign and the 
foundation of it at the same time." 

"Behavior is a mirror in which every one displays his 
own image." 

"There is a courtesy of the heart. It is akin to love. 
Out of it arises the purest courtesy in the outward be- 

"A freely offered homage is the most beautiful of all; 
relations. And how were that possible without love ?" 

"We are never further from our wishes than when 
we imagine that we possess what we have desired." 

"No one is more a slave than the man who thinks him- 
self free while he is not." 

"A man has only to declare that he is free, and the 
next moment he feels the conditions to which he is sub- 
ject. Let him venture to declare that he is under condi- 
tions, and then he will feel that he is free." 


Elective Affinities 

"Against great advantages in another, there are no 
means of defending ourselves except love." 

"There is something terrible in the sight of a highly 
gifted man lying under obligations to a fool." 

" 'No man is a hero to his valet/ the proverb says. 
But that is only because it requires a hero to recognize 
a hero. The valet will probably know how to value the 

"Mediocrity has no greater consolation than in the 
thought that genius is not immortal." 

"The greatest men are connected with their own cen- 
tury always through some weakness." 

"One is apt to regard people as more dangerous than 
they are." 

"Fools and modest people are alike innocuous. It is 
only your half-fools and your half-wise who are really 
and truly dangerous." 

"There is no better deliverance from the world than 
through art; and a man can form no surer bond with it 
than through art." 

"Alike in the moment of our highest fortune and our 
deepest necessity, we require the artist." 

"The business of art is with the difficult and the good." 

"To see the difficult easily handled gives us the feeling 
of the impossible." 

"Difficulties increase the nearer we are to our end." 

"Sowing is not so difficult as reaping." 


Elective Affinities 


THE very serious discomfort which this visit had 
caused to Charlotte was in some way compensated to her 
through the fuller insight which it had enabled her to 
gain into her daughter's character. In this, her knowl- 
edge of the world was of no slight service to her. It 
was not the first time that so singular a character had 
come across her, although she had never seen any in 
which the unusual features were so largely developed; 
and she had had experience enough to show her that 
such persons after having felt the discipline of life, 
after having gone through something of it, and been in 
intercourse with older people, may come out at last really 
charming and amiable; the selfishness may soften and 
eager, restless activity find a definite direction for itself. 
And therefore, as a mother, Charlotte was able to endure 
the appearance of symptoms which for others might per- 
haps have been unpleasing, from a sense that where 
strangers only desire to enjoy, or at least not to have 
their taste offended, the business of parents is rather to 

After her daughter's departure, however, she had to 
be pained in a singular and unlooked-for manner, in find- 


Elective Affinities 

ing that, not so much through what there really was 
objectionable in her behavior, as through what was good 
and praiseworthy in it, she had left an ill report of herself 
behind her. Luciana seemed to have prescribed it as a 
rule to herself not only to be merry with the merry, but 
miserable with the miserable; and in order to give full 
swing to the spirit of contradiction in her, often to make 
the happy uncomfortable and the sad cheerful. In every 
family among whom she came she inquired after such 
members of it as were ill or infirm, and unable to appear 
in society. She would go to see them in their rooms, 
enact the physician, and insist on prescribing powerful 
doses for them out of her own traveling medicine-chest, 
which she constantly took with her in her carriage; her 
attempted cures, as may be supposed, either succeeding or 
failing as chance happened to direct. 

In this sort of benevolence she was thoroughly cruel, 
and would listen to nothing that was said to her, because 
she was convinced that she was managing admirably. 
One of these attempts of hers on the moral side failed 
very disastrously, and this it was which gave Charlotte 
so much trouble, inasmuch as it involved consequences 
and every one was talking about it. She never had heard 
of the story till Luciana was gone; Ottilie, who had 
made one of the party present at the time, had to give her 
a circumstantial account of it. 

One of several daughters of a family of rank had 
the misfortune to have caused the death of one of her 
younger sisters ; it had destroyed her peace of mind, and 


Elective Affinities 

she had never been properly herself since. She lived in/ 
her own room, occupying herself and keeping quiet ; and 
she could only bear to see the members of her own family\. 
when they came one by one. If there were several to- 
gether, she suspected at once that they were making re- 
flections upon her, and upon her condition. To each of 
them singly she would speak rationally enough, and talk 
freely for an hour at a time. 

Luciana had heard of this, and had secretly deter- 
mined with herself, as soon as she got into the house, 
that she would forthwith work a miracle, and restore the 
young lady to society. She conducted herself in the mat- 
ter more prudently than usual, managed to introduce her- 
self alone to the poor, sick-souled girl, and, as far as people 
could understand, had wound her way into her confi- 
dence through music. At last came her fatal mistake; 
wishing to make a scene, and fancying that she had suf- 
ficiently prepared her for it, one evening she suddenly 
introduced the beautiful, pale creature into the midst of 
the brilliant, glittering assembly ; and perhaps, even then, 
the attempt might not have so utterly failed, had not the 
crowd themselves, between curiosity and apprehension, 
conducted themselves so unwisely, first gathering about 
the invalid, and then shrinking from her again ; and with 
their whispers, and shaking their heads together, con- 
fusing and agitating her. Her delicate sensibility could 
not endure it. With a dreadful shriek, which expressed, 
as it seemed, a horror at some monster that was rushing 
upon her, she fainted. The crowd fell back in terror on 


Elective Affinities 

every side, and Ottilie had been one of those who had 
carried back the sufferer utterly insensible to her room. 

Luciana meanwhile, just like herself, had been reading 
an angry lecture to the rest of the party, without reflect- 
ing for a moment that she herself was entirely to blame, 
and without letting herself be deterred by this and other 
failures from going on with her experimentalizing. 

The state of the invalid herself had since that time 
become more and more serious ; indeed, the disorder had 
increased to such a degree that the poor thing's parents 
were unable to keep her any longer at home, and had 
been forced to confide her to the care of a public institu- 
tion. Nothing remained for Charlotte, except, by the 
delicacy of her own attention to the family, in some de- 
gree to alleviate the pain which had been occasioned by 
her daughter. On Ottilie the thing had made a deep im- 
pression. She felt the more for the unhappy girl, as she 
was convinced, she did not attempt to deny it to Char- 
lotte, that by a careful treatment the disorder might have 
been unquestionably removed. 

So there came, too, as it often happens that we dwell 
more on past disagreeables than on past agreeables, a 
slight misunderstanding to be spoken of, which had led 
Ottilie to a wrong judgment of the Architect, when he 
did not choose to produce his collection that evening, 
although she had so eagerly begged him to produce it. 
His practical refusal had remained, ever since, hanging 
about her heart, she herself could not tell why. Her 
feelings about the matter were undoubtedly just ; what a 


Elective Affinities 

young lady like Ottilie could desire, a young man like the 
Architect ought not to have refused. The latter, how- 
ever, when she took occasion to give him a gentle reproof 
for it, had a very valid excuse to offer for himself. 

"If you knew," he said, "how roughly even cultivated 
people allow themselves to handle the most valuable 
works of art, you would forgive me for not producing 
mine among the crowd. None will take the trouble to 
hold a medal by the rim. They will finger the most beau- 
tiful impressions and the smoothest surfaces; they will 
take the rarest coins between the thumb and forefinger, 
and rub them up and down, as if they were testing the 
execution with the touch. Without remembering that a 
large sheet of paper ought to be held in two hands, they 
will lay hold, with one, of an invaluable proof-engraving 
of some drawing which can not be replaced, like a con- 
ceited politician laying hold of a newspaper, and passing 
judgment by anticipation, as he is cutting the pages, on 
the occurrences of the world. Nobody cares to recollect 
that if twenty people, one after the other, treat a work 
of art in this way, the one-and-twentieth will not find 
much to see there." 

"Have not I often vexed you in this way ?" asked Ot- 
tilie. "Have not I, through my carelessness, many times 
injured your treasures?" 

"Never once," answered the Architect, "never. For 
you it would be impossible. In you the right thing is 

"In any case," replied Ottilie, "it would not be a bad 


Elective Affinities 

plan, if in the next edition of the book of good manners, 
after the chapters which tell us how we ought to eat and 
drink in company, a good circumstantial chapter were 
inserted, How to behave among works of art and in 

"Undoubtedly," said the Architect; "and then curi- 
osity collectors and amateurs would be better contented 
to show their valuable treasures to the world." 

Ottilie had long, long forgiven him; but as he seemed 
to have taken her reproof sorely to heart, and assured 
her again and again that he would gladly produce every- 
thing that he was delighted to do anything for his 
friends she felt that she had wounded his feelings, and 
that she owed him some compensation. It was not easy 
for her, therefore, to give an absolute refusal to a request 
which he made her in the conclusion of this conversation, 
although when she called her heart into counsel about it, 
she did not see how she could allow herself to do what 
he wished. 

The circumstances of the matter were these: Ottilie's 
exclusion from the picture exhibition by Luciana's jeal- 
ousy had irritated him in the highest degree ; and at the 
same time he had observed with regret that at this, the 
most brilliant part of all the amusements at the castle, 
ill health had prevented Charlotte from being more than 
rarely present; and now he did not wish to go. away, 
without some additional proof of his gratitude, and, for 
the honor of one and the entertainment of the other, 
preparing a far more beautiful exhibition than any of 


Elective Affinities 

those which had preceded it. Perhaps, too, unknown to 
himself, another secret motive was working on him. It 
was so hard for him to leave the house, and to leave the 
family. It seemed impossible to him to go away from 
Ottilie's eyes, under the calm, sweet, gentle glance of 
which the latter part of the time he had been living almost 
entirely alone. 

The Christmas holidays were approaching; and it be- 
came at once clear to him that the very thing which he 
wanted was a representation with real figures of one of 
those pictures of the scene in the stable a sacred exhibi- 
tion such as at this holy season good Christians delight 
to offer to the divine Mother and her Child, of the man- 
ner in which she, in her seeming lowliness, was honored 
first by the shepherds and afterward by kings. 

He had thoroughly brought before himself how such 
a picture should be contrived. A fair, lovely child was 
found, and there would be no lack of shepherds and shep- 
herdesses. But without Ottilie the thing could not be 
done. The young man had exalted her in his design to 
be the mother of God, and if she refused there was no 
question but the undertaking must fall to the ground. 
Ottilie, half embarrassed at the proposal, referred him 
and his request to Charlotte. The latter gladly gave her 
permission, and lent her assistance in overcoming and 
overpersuading Ottilie's hesitation in assuming so sacred 
a personality. The Architect worked day and night, that 
by Christmas Eve everything might be ready. 

Day and night, indeed, in the literal sense. At all 


Elective Affinities 

times he was a man who had but few necessities; and 
Ottilie's presence seemed to be to him in the place of all 
delicacies. When he was working for her, it was as if 
he required no sleep; when he was busy about her, as 
if he could do without food. Accordingly by the hour of 
the evening solemnity, all was completed. He had found 
the means of collecting some well-toned wind instruments 
to form an introduction, and produce the desired temper 
of thought and feeling. But when the curtain rose, Char- 
lotte was taken completely by surprise. The picture 
which presented itself to her had been repeated so often 
in the world that one could scarcely have expected any 
new impression to be produced. But here, the reality as 
representing the picture had its especial advantages. The 
whole space was the color rather of night than of twi- 
light, and there was nothing even of the details of the 
scene which was obscure. The inimitable idea that all the 
light should proceed from the child, the artist had con- 
trived to carry out by an ingenious method of illumina- 
tion which was concealed by the figures in the foreground, 
who were all in shadow. Bright-looking boys and girls 
were standing round, their fresh faces sharply lighted 
from below ; and there were angels too, whose own bril- 
liancy grew pale before the divine, whose ethereal bodies 
showed dim and dense and needing other light in the 
presence of the body of the divine humanity. By good 
fortune the infant had fallen asleep in the loveliest atti- 
tude, so that nothing disturbed the contemplation when 
the eye rested on the seeming mother, who with infinite 


Elective Affinities 

grace had lifted off a veil to reveal her hidden treasure. 
At this moment the picture seemed to have been caught, 
and there to have remained fixed. Physically dazzled, 
mentally surprised, the people round appeared to have 
just moved to turn away their half-blinded eyes, to be 
glancing again toward the child with curious delight, 
and to be showing more wonder and pleasure than awe 
and reverence although these emotions were not forgot- 
ten, and were to be traced upon the features of some of 
the older spectators. 

But Ottilie's figure, expression, attitude, glance, ex- 
celled all which any painter has ever represented. A man 
who had true knowledge of art, and had seen this spec- 
tacle, would have been in fear lest any portion of it should 
move; he would have doubted whether anything could 
ever so much please him again. Unluckily, there was no 
one present who could comprehend the whole of this 
effect. The Architect alone, who, as a tall, slender shep-^ 
herd, was looking in from the side over those who were 
kneeling, enjoyed, although he was not in the best posi- 
tion for seeing, the fullest pleasure. And who can de- 
scribe the mien of the new-made queen of heaven ? The 
purest humility, the most exquisite feeling of modesty, at 
the great honor which had undeservedly been bestowed 
upon her, with indescribable and immeasurable happiness, 
was displayed upon her features, expressing as much her 
own personal emotion as that of the character which 
she was endeavoring to represent. 

Charlotte was delighted with the beautiful figures ; but 


Elective Affinities 

what had most effect on her was the child. Her eyes 
filled with tears, and her imagination presented to her 
in the liveliest colors that she might soon hope to have 
such another darling creature on her own lap. 

They had let down the curtain, partly to give the ex- 
hibitors some little rest, partly to make an alteration in 
the exhibition. The artist had proposed to himself to 
transmute the first scene of night and lowliness into a 
picture of splendor and glory; and for this purpose had 
prepared a blaze of light to fall in from every side, which 
this interval was required to kindle. 

Ottilie, in the semi-theatrical position in which she 
found herself, had hitherto felt perfectly at her ease, 
because, with the exception of Charlotte and a few mem- 
bers of the household, no one had witnessed this devout 
piece of artistic display. She was, therefore, in some 
degree annoyed when in the interval she learned that a 
stranger had come into the saloon, and had been warmly 
received by Charlotte. Who it was no one was able to 
tell her. She therefore made up her mind not to produce 
a disturbance, and to go on with her character. Candles 
and lamps blazed out, and she was surrounded by splen- 
dor perfectly infinite. The curtain rose. It was a sight 
to startle the spectators. The whole picture was one 
blaze of light; and instead of the full depth of shadow, 
there now were only the colors left remaining, which, 
from the skill with which they had been selected, pro- 
duced a gentle softening of tone. Looking out under her 
long eyelashes, Ottilie perceived the figure of a man sit- 


Elective Affinities 

ting by Charlotte. She did not recognize him; but the 
voice she fancied was that of the Assistant at the school. 
A singular emotion came over her. How many things 
had happened since she last heard the voice of that her 
kind instructor! Like a flash of forked lightning the 
stream of her joys and her sorrow rushed swiftly before 
her soul, and the question rose in her heart, Dare you 
confess, dare you acknowledge it all to him? If not, 
how little can you deserve to appear before him under 
this sainted form ; and how strange must it not seem to 
him who has only known you as your natural self to see 
you now under this disguise! In an instant, swift as 
thought, feeling and reflection began to clash and gain 
within her. Her eyes filled with tears, while she forced 
herself to continue to appear as a motionless figure, and 
it was a relief, indeed, to her when the child began to 
stir and the artist saw himself compelled to give the 
sign that the curtain should fall again. 

If the painful feeling of being unable to meet a valued 
friend had, during the last few moments, been distressing 
Ottilie in addition to her other emotions, she was now in 
still greater embarrassment. Was she to present herself 
to him in this strange disguise? or had she better change 
her dress? She did not hesitate she did the last; and in 
the interval she endeavored to collect and to compose 
herself; nor did she properly recover her self-possession 
until at last, in her ordinary costume, she had welcomed 
the new visitor. 


Elective Affinities 


IN so far as the Architect desired the happiness of his 
kind patronesses, it was a pleasure to him, now that at 
last he was obliged to go, to know that he was leading 
them in good society with the estimable Assistant. v At 
the same time, however, when he thought of their good- 
ness in its relation to himself, he could not help feeling 
it a little painful to see his place so soon, and as it seemed 
to his modesty, so well, so completely supplied. He had 
lingered and lingered, but now he forced himself away; 
what, after he was gone, he must endure as he could, at 
least he could not stay to witness with his own eyes. 

To the great relief of this half-melancholy feeling, the 
ladies at his departure made him a present of a waistcoat, 
upon which he had watched them both for some time past 
at work, with a silent envy of the fortunate unknown to 
whom it was by and by to belong. Such a present is the 
most agreeable which a true-hearted man can receive ; for 
while he thinks of the unwearied play of the beautiful 
ringers at the making of it, he can not help flattering him- 
self that in so long-sustained a labor the feeling could 
not have remained utterly without an interest in its 


Elective Affinities 

The ladies had now a new visitor to entertain, for 
whom they felt a real regard, and whose stay with them 
it would be their endeavor to make as agreeable as they 
could. There is in all women a peculiar circle of inward 
interests, which remain always the same, and from which 
nothing in the world can divorce them. In outward social 
intercourse, on the other hand, they will gladly and easily 
allow themselves to take their tone from the person with 
whom at the moment they are occupied; and thus by a 
mixture of impassiveness and susceptibility, by persisting 
and by yielding, they continue to keep the government to 
themselves, and no man in the cultivated world can ever 
take it from them. 

The Architect, following at the same time his own 
fancy and his own inclination, had been exerting himself 
and putting out his talents for their gratification and for 
the purposes of his friends ; and business and amusement, 
while he was with them, had been conducted in this spirit, 
and directed to the ends which most suited his taste. But 
now in a short time, through the presence of the Assistant, 
quite another sort of life was commenced. His great gift 
was to talk well, and to treat in his conversation of men 
and human relations, particularly in reference to the cul- 
tivation of young people. Thus arose a very perceptible 
contrast to the life which had been going on hitherto, all 
the more as the Assistant could not entirely approve of 
their having interested themselves in such subjects so 

Of the impersonated picture which received him on his 


Elective Affinities 

arrival, he never said a single word. On the other hand, 
when they took him to see the church and the chapel with 
their new decorations, expecting to please him as much as 
they were pleased themselves, he did not hesitate to ex- 
press a very contrary opinion about it. 

"This mixing up of the holy with the sensuous," he 
said, "is anything but pleasing to my taste ; I can not like 
men to set apart certain especial places, consecrate them, 
and deck them out, that by so doing they may nourish in 
themselves a temper of piety. No ornaments, not even 
the very simplest, should disturb in us that sense of the 
Divine Being which accompanies us wherever we are, 
and can consecrate every spot into a temple. What 
pleases me is to see a home-service of God held in the 
saloon where people come together to eat, where they 
have their parties, and amuse themselves with games and 
dances. The highest, the most excellent in men, has no 
form ; and one should be cautious how one gives it any 
form except noble action." 

Charlotte, who was already generally acquainted with 
his mode of thinking, and in the short time he had been 
at the castle, had already probed it more deeply, found 
something also which he might do for her in his own 
department; and she had her garden children, whom the 
Architect had reviewed shortly before his departure, 
marshaled up into the great saloon. In their bright, 
clean uniforms, with their regular, orderly movement, 
and their own natural vivacity, they looked exceedingly 
well. The Assistant examined them in his own way, and 


Elective Affinities 

by a variety of questions, and by the turns which he gave 
them, soon brought to light the capacities and dispositions 
of the children; and without its seeming so, in the space 
of less than one hour he had really given them important 
instruction and assistance. 

"How did you manage that?" said Charlotte, as the chil- 
dren marched away. "I listened with all my attention. 
Nothing was brought forward except things which were 
quite familiar, and yet I can not tell the least how I 
should begin to bring them to be discussed in so short 
a time so methodically, with all this questioning and 

"Perhaps," replied the Assistant, "we ought to make 
a secret of the tricks of our own handicraft. However, 
I will not hide from you one very simple maxim, with the 
help of which you may do this, and a great deal more 
than this. Take any subject, a substance, an idea, what- 
ever you like; keep fast hold of it; make yourself thor- 
oughly acquainted with it in all its parts, and then it will 
be easy for you, in conversation, to find out, with a mass 
of children, how much about it has already developed it- 
self in them; what requires to be stimulated, what to be 
directly communicated. The answers to your questions 
may be as unsatisfactory as they will, they may wander 
wide of the mark ; if you only take care that your counter- 
question shall draw their thoughts and senses inward 
again; if you do not allow yourself to be driven from 
your own position the children will at last reflect, com- 
prehend, learn only what the teacher desires them to 


Elective Affinities 

learn, and the subject will be presented to them in the 
light in which he wishes them to see it. The greatest 
mistake which he can make is to allow himself to be run 
away with from the subject; not to know how to keep 
fast to the point with which he is engaged. Do you try 
this on your own account the next time the children come ; 
you will find you will be greatly entertained by it your- 

"That is very good," said Charlotte. "The right 
method of teaching is the reverse, I see, of what we must 
do in life. In society we must keep the attention long 
upon nothing, and in instruction the first commandment 
is to permit no dissipation of it." 

"Variety, without dissipation, were the best motto for 
both teaching and life, if this desirable equipoise were 
easy to be preserved," said the Assistant, and he was 
going on further with the subject, when Charlotte called 
out to him to look again at the children, whose merry 
troop were at the moment moving across the court. He 
expressed his satisfaction at seeing them wearing a uni- 
form. "Men," he said, "should wear a uniform from 
their childhood upward. They have to accustom them- 
selves to work together; to lose themselves among their 
equals; to obey in masses, and to work on a large scale. 
Every kind of uniform, moreover, generates a military 
habit of thought, and a smart, straightforward carriage. 
All boys are born soldiers, whatever you do with them. 
You have only to watch them at their mock fights and 
games, their storming parties and scaling parties." 


Elective Affinities 

"On the other hand, you will not blame me," replied 
Ottilie, "if I do not insist with my girls on such unity of 
costume. When I introduce them to you, I hope to 
gratify you by a party-colored mixture." 

"I approve of that entirely," replied the other. 
"Women should go about in every sort of variety of 
dress; each following her own style and her own likings, 
that each may learn to feel what sits well upon her and 
becomes her. And for a more weighty reason as well 
because it is appointed for them to stand alone all their 
lives, and work alone." 

"That seems to me to be a paradox," answered Char- 
lotte. "Are we then to be never anything for ourselves ?" 

"Oh, yes !" replied the Assistant. "In respect of other 
women assuredly. But observe a young lady as a lover, 
as a bride, as a housewife, as a mother. She always 
stands isolated. She is always alone, and will be alone. 
Even the most empty-headed woman is in the same case. 
Each one of them excludes all others. It is her nature 
to do so ; because of each one of them is required every- 
thing which the entire sex have to do. With a man it 
is altogether different. He would make a second man if 
there were none. But a woman might live to an eternity, 
without even so much as thinking of producing a dupli- 
cate of herself." 

"One has only to say the truth in a strange way," said 
Charlotte, "and at last the strangest thing will seem to 
be true. We will accept what is good for us out of your 
observations, and yet as women we will hold together 


Elective Affinities 

with women, and do common work with them too; not 
to give the other sex too great an advantage over us. 
Indeed, you must not take it ill of us, if in future we 
come to feel a little malicious satisfaction when our lords 
and masters do not get on in the very best way together." 

With much care, this wise, sensible person went on to 
examine more closely how Ottilie proceeded with her 
little pupils, and expressed his marked approbation of 
it. "You are entirely right," he said, "in directing these 
children only to what they can immediately and usefully 
put in practise. Cleanliness, for instance, will accustom 
them to wear their clothes with pleasure to themselves; 
and everything is gained if they can be induced to enter 
into what they do with cheerfulness and self-reflection." 

In other ways he found, to his great satisfaction, that 
nothing had been done for outward display; but all was 
inward, and designed to supply what was indispensably 
necessary. "In how few words," he cried, "might the 
whole business of education be summed up, if people had 
but ears to hear !" 

"Will you try whether I have any ears ?" said Ottilie, 

"Indeed I will," answered he, "only you must not be- 
tray me. Educate the boys to be servants, and the girls 
to be mothers, and everything is as it should be." 

"To be mothers?" replied Ottilie. "Women would 
scarcely think that sufficient. They have to look for- 
ward, without being mothers, to going out into service. 
And, indeed, our young men think themselves a great 


Elective Affinities 

deal too good for servants. One can see easily, in every 
one of them, that he holds himself far fitter to be a 

"And for that reason we should say nothing about it 
to them," said the Assistant. "We flatter ourselves on 
into life; but life flatters not us. How many men would 
like to acknowledge at the outset, what at the end they 
must acknowledge whether they like it or not? But let 
us leave these considerations, which do not concern us 

"I consider you very fortunate in having been able to 
go so methodically to work with your pupils. If your 
very little ones run about with their dolls, and stitch to- 
gether a few petticoats for them ; if the elder sisters will 
then take care of the younger, and the whole household 
know how to supply its own wants, and one member of it 
help the others, the further step into life will not then be 
great, and such a girl will find in her husband what she 
has lost in her parents. 

"But among the higher ranks the problem is a sorely 
intricate one. We have to provide for higher, finer, more 
delicate relations; especially for such as arise out of so- 
ciety. We are, therefore, obliged to give our pupils an 
outward cultivation. It is indispensable, it is necessary, 
and it may be really valuable, if we do not overstep the 
proper measure in it. Only it is so easy, while one is 
proposing to cultivate the children for a wider circle, to 
drive them out into the indefinite, without keeping be- 
fore our eyes the real requisites of the inner nature. 


Elective Affinities 

Here lies the problem which more or less must be either 
solved or blundered over by all educators. 

"Many things, with which we furnish our scholars at 
the school, do not please me ; because experience tells me 
of how little service they are likely to be in after-life. 
How much is not at once stripped off; how much is 
not at once committed to oblivion, as soon as the young 
lady finds herself in the position of a housewife or a 
mother ! 

"In the meantime, since I have devoted myself to 
this occupation, I can not but entertain a devout hope 
that one day, with the companionship of some faithful 
helpmate, I may succeed in cultivating purely in my 
pupils that, and that only, which they will require when 
they pass out into the field of independent activity and 
self-reliance; that I may be able to say to myself, in this 
sense is their education completed. Another education 
there is indeed which will again speedily recommence, 
and work on well-nigh through all the years of our life 
the education which circumstances will give us, if we 
do not give it to ourselves." 

How true Ottilie felt were these words ! What had 
not a passion, little dreamed of before, done to educate 
her in the past year ! What trials did she not see hover- 
ing before her if she looked forward only to the next 
to the very next, which was now so near! 

It was not without a purpose that the young man had 
spoken of a helpmate of a wife; for with all his diffi- 
dence he could not refrain from thus remotely hinting 


Elective Affinities 

at his own wishes. A number of circumstances and ac- 
cidents, indeed, combined to induce him on this visit to 
approach a few steps toward his aim. 

The Lady Superior of the school was advanced in 
years. She had been already for some time looking 
about among her fellow-laborers, male and female, for 
some person whom she could take into partnership with 
herself, and at last had made proposals to the Assistant, 
in whom she had the highest ground for feeling con- 
fidence. He was to conduct the business of the school 
with herself. He was to work with her in it, as if it was 
his own; and after her death, as her heir, to enter upon 
it as sole proprietor. 

The principal thing now seemed to be, that he should 
find a wife who would cooperate with him. Ottilie was 
secretly before his eyes and before his heart. A num- 
ber of difficulties suggested themselves, and yet again 
there were favorable circumstances on the other side 
to counterbalance them. Luciana had left the school; 
Ottilie could therefore return with the less difficulty. 
Of the affair with Edward, some little had transpired. 
It passed, however, as many such things do, as a matter 
of indifference, and this very circumstance might make 
it desirable that she should leave the castle. And yet, 
perhaps, no decision would have been arrived at, no 
step would have been taken, had not an unexpected visit 
given a special impulse to his hesitation. The appear- 
ance of remarkable people, in any and every circle, can 
never be without its effects. 

(A) 12 VOL. 2 

Elective Affinities 

The Count and the Baroness, who often found them- 
selves asked for their opinion, almost every one being in 
difficulty about the education of their children, as to the 
value of the various schools, had found it desirable to 
make themselves particularly acquainted with this one, 
which was generally so well spoken of; and under their 
present circumstances they were more easily able to 
carry on these inquiries in company. 

The Baroness, however, had something else in view as 
well. While she was last at the castle, she had talked 
over with Charlotte the whole affair of Edward and 
Ottilie. She had insisted again and again that Ottilie 
must be sent away. She tried every means to encourage 
Charlotte to do it, and to keep her from being fright- 
ened by Edward's threats. Several modes of escape 
from the difficulty were suggested. Accidentally the 
school was mentioned, and the Assistant and his incip- 
ient passion, which made the Baroness more resolved 
than ever to pay her intended visit there. 

She went; she made acquaintance with the Assist- 
ant; looked over the establishment, and spoke of Ottilie. 
The Count also spoke with much interest of her, having 
in his recent visit learned to know her better. She had 
been drawn toward him; indeed, she had felt attracted 
by him; believing that she could see, that she could 
perceive in his solid, substantial conversation something 
to which hitherto she had been an entire stranger. In 
her intercourse with Edward, the world had been utterly 
forgotten; in the presence of the Count, the world ap- 


Elective Affinities 

peared nrst worth regarding. The attraction was mutual. 
The Count conceived a liking for Ottilie; he would have 
been glad to have had her for a daughter. Thus a sec- 
ond time, and worse than the first time, she was in the 
way of the Baroness. Who knows what, in times when 
passions ran hotter than they do nowadays, this lady 
might not have devised against her? As things were, 
it was enough if she could get her married, and render 
her more innocuous for the future to the peace of mind 
of married women. She therefore artfully urged the 
Assistant, in a delicate but effective manner, to set out 
on a little excursion to the castle; where his plans and 
his wishes, of which he made no secret to the lady, he 
might forthwith take steps to realize. 

With the fullest consent of the Superior he started off 
on his expedition, and in his heart he nourished good 
hopes of success. He knew that Ottilie was not ill-dis- 
posed toward him; and although it was true there was 
some disproportion of rank between them, yet distinc- 
tions of this kind were fast disappearing in the temper 
of the time. Moreover, the Baroness had made him per- 
ceive clearly that Ottilie must always remain a poor 
portionless maiden. To be related to a wealthy family, 
it was said, could be of service to nobody. For even 
with the largest property, men have a feeling that it is 
not right to deprive of any considerable sum those who, 
as standing in a nearer degree of relationship, appear 
to have a fuller right to possession; and really it is a 
strange thing, that the immense privilege which a man 


Elective Affinities 

has of disposing of his property after his death, he so 
very seldom uses for the benefit of those whom he loves, 
out of regard to established usage only appearing to 
consider those who would inherit his estate from him 
supposing he made no will at all. 

Thus, while on his journey, he grew to feel himself 
entirely on a level with Ottilie. A favorable reception 
raised his hopes. He found Ottilie indeed not alto- 
gether so open with him as usual, but she was consider- 
ably matured, more developed, and, if you please, 
generally more conversible than he had known her. She 
was ready to give him the fullest insight into many 
things which were in any way connected with his pro- 
fession; but when he attempted to approach his proper 
object, a certain inward shyness always held him back. 

Once, however, Charlotte gave him an opportunity 
for saying something. In Ottilie's presence she said to 
him: "Well now, you have looked closely enough into 
everything which is going forward in my circle. How 
do you find Ottilie? you had better say while she is 

Hereupon the Assistant signified, with a clear per- 
ception and composed expression, how that, in respect 
of a freer carriage, of an easier manner in speaking, 
of a higher insight into the things of the world, which 
showed itself more in actions than in words, he found 
Ottilie altered much for the better; but that he still be- 
lieved it might be of serious advantage to her if she 
would go back for some little time to the school, in 


Elective Affinities 

order methodically and thoroughly to make her own for- 
ever what the world was only imparting to her in frag- 
ments and pieces, rather perplexing her than satisfying 
her, and often too late to be of service. He did not wish 
to be prolix about it. Ottilie herself knew best how 
much method and connection there was in the style of 
instruction out of which, in that case, she would be taken. 

Ottilie had nothing to say against this; she could not 
acknowledge what it was which these words made her 
feel, because she was hardly able to explain it to herself. 
It seemed to her as if nothing in the world was discon- 
nected so long as she thought of the one person whom 
she loved : and she could not conceive how, without him, 
anything could be connected at all. 

Charlotte replied to the proposal with a wise kind- 
ness. She said that she herself, as well as Ottilie, had [ 
long desired her return to the school. At that time, 
however, the presence of so dear a companion and helper 
had become indispensable to herself; still she would 
offer no obstacle at some future period, if Ottilie con- 
tinued to wish it, to her going back there for such a 
time as would enable her to complete what she had be- 
gun, and to make entirely her own what had been in- 

The Assistant listened with delight to this qualified 
assent. Ottilie did not venture to say anything against 
it, although the very thought made her shudder. Char- 
lotte, on her side, thought only how to gain time. She 
hoped that Edward would soon come back and find him- 


Elective Affinities 

self a happy father, then she was convinced all would go 
right; and one way or another they would be able to 
settle something for Ottilie. 

After an important conversation which has furnished 
matter for after-reflection to all who have taken part 
in it, there commonly follows a sort of pause, which in 
appearance is like a general embarrassment. They 
walked up and down the saloon. The Assistant turned 
over the leaves of various books, and came at last on the 
folio of engravings which had remained lying there 
since Luciana's time. As soon as he saw that it con- 
tained nothing but apes, he shut it up again. 

It may have been this, however, which gave occasion 
to a conversation of which we find traces in Ottilie's 


"It is strange how men can have the heart to take 
such pains with the pictures of those hideous monkeys. 
One lowers one's self sufficiently when one looks at them 
merely as animals, but it is really wicked to give way to 
the inclination to look for people whom we know behind 
such masks." 

"It is a sure mark of a certain obliquity, to take pleas- 
ure in caricatures and monstrous faces, and pigmies. I 
have to thank our kind Assistant that I have never been 
vexed with natural history; I could never make myself 
at home with worms and beetles." 

"Just now he acknowledged to me, that it was the 


Elective Affinities 

same with him. 'Of nature,' he said, 'we ought to know 
nothing except what is actually alive immediately around 
us. With the trees which blossom and put out leaves 
and bear fruit in our own neighborhood, with every 
shrub which we pass by, with every blade of grass on 
which we tread, we stand in a real relation. They are 
our genuine compatriots. The birds which hop up and 
down among our branches, which sing among our 
leaves, belong to us ; they speak to us from our childhood 
upward, and we learn to understand their language. 
But let a man ask himself whether or not every strange 
creature, torn out of its natural environment, does not 
at first sight make a sort of painful impression upon 
him, which is only deadened by custom. It is a 
mark of a motley, dissipated sort of life, to be able 
to endure monkeys, and parrots, and black people, 
about one's self." 

"Many times when a certain longing curiosity about 
these strange objects has come over me, I have envied 
the traveler who sees such marvels in living, every-day 
connection with other marvels. But he, too, must have 
become another man. Palm-trees will not allow a man 
to wander among them with impunity ; and doubtless his 
tone of thinking becomes very different in a land where 
elephants and tigers are at home." 

"The only inquirers into nature whom we care to 
respect, are such as know how to describe and to repre- 
sent to us the strange, wonderful things which they have 
seen in their proper locality, each in its own especial 


Elective Affinities 

element. How I should enjoy once hearing Humboldt 

"A cabinet of natural curiosities we may regard like 
an Egyptian burying-place, where the various plant 
gods and animal gods stand about embalmed. It may 
be well enough for a priest-caste to busy itself with such 
things in a twilight of mystery. But in general instruc- 
tion, they have no place or business; and we must be- 
ware of them all the more, because what is nearer to us, 
and more valuable, may be so easily thrust aside by 

"A teacher who can arouse a feeling for one single 
good action, for one single good poem, accomplishes 
more than he who fills our memory with rows on rows 
of natural objects, classified with name and form. For 
what is the result of all these, except what we know as 
well without them, that the human figure preeminently 
and peculiarly is made in the image and likeness of 

"Individuals may be left to occupy themselves with 
whatever amuses them, with whatever gives them pleas- 
ure, whatever they think useful; but the proper study 
of mankind is man." 


Elective Affinities 


THERE are but few men who care to occupy them- 
selves with the immediate past. Either we are forcibly 
bound up in the present, or we lose ourselves in the long 
gone-by, and seek back for what is utterly lost, as if it 
were possible to summon it up again, and rehabilitate it. 
Even in great and wealthy families who are under large 
obligations to their ancestors, we commonly find men 
thinking more of their grandfathers than their fathers. 

Such reflections as these suggested themselves to our 
Assistant, as, on one of those beautiful days in which 
the departing winter is accustomed to imitate the spring, 
he had been walking up and down the great old castle 
garden, and admiring the tall avenues of the lindens, 
and the formal walks and flower-beds which had been 
laid out by Edward's father. The trees had thriven ad- 
mirably, according to the design of him who had planted 
them, and now, when they ought to have begun to 
be valued and enjoyed, no one ever spoke of them. 
Hardly any one even went near them, and the interest 
and the outlay were now directed to the other side, out 
into the free and the open. 

He remarked upon it to Charlotte on his return; she 
did not take it unkindly. "While life is sweeping us 
forward," she replied, "we fancy that we are acting out 


Elective Affinities 

our own impulses; we believe that we choose ourselves 
what we will do, and what we will enjoy. But in fact, 
if we look at it closely, our actions are no more than the 
plans and the desires of the time which we are com- 
pelled to carry out." 

"No doubt," said the Assistant. "And who is strong 
enough to withstand the stream of what is round him? 
Time passes on, and in it opinions, thoughts, prejudices, 
and interests. If the youth of the son falls in the era of 
revolution, we may feel assured that he will have nothing 
in common with his father. If the father lived at a 
time when the desire was to accumulate property, to 
secure the possession of it, to narrow and to gather 
one's self in, and to base one's enjoyment in separation 
from the world, the son will at once seek to extend him- 
self, to communicate himself to others, to spread himself 
over a wide surface, and open out his closed stores." 

"Entire periods," replied Charlotte, "resemble this 
father and son whom you have been describing. Of the 
state of things when every little town was obliged to 
have its walls and moats, when the castle of the noble- 
man was built in a swamp, and the smallest manor- 
houses were only accessible by a drawbridge, we are 
scarcely able to form a conception. In our days, the 
largest cities take down their walls, the moats of the 
princes' castles are rilled in; cities are no more than 
great places, and when one travels and sees all this, one 
might fancy that universal peace was just established, 
and the golden age was before the door. No one feels 


Elective Affinities 

himself easy in a garden which does not look like the 
open country. There must be nothing to remind him 
of form and constraint; we choose to be entirely free 
and to draw our breath without sense of confinement. Do 
you conceive it possible, my friend, that we can ever return 
again out of this into another, into our former condition?" 

"Why should we not?" replied the Assistant. "Every 
condition has its own burden along with it, the most re- 
laxed as well as the most constrained. The first pre- 
supposes abundance, and leads to extravagance. Let 
want reappear, and the spirit of moderation is at once 
with us again. Men who are obliged to make use of 
their space and their soil, will speedily enough raise 
walls up round their gardens to be sure of their crops 
and plants. Out of this will arise by degrees a new 
phase of things: the useful will again gain the upper 
hand; and even the man of large possessions will feel 
at last that he must make the most of all which belongs 
to him. Believe me, it is quite possible that your son 
may become indifferent to all which you have been doing 
in the park, and draw in again behind the solemn walls 
and the tall lindens of his grandfather." 

The secret pleasure which it gave Charlotte to have a 
son foretold to her, made her forgive the Assistant his 
somewhat unfriendly prophecy of how it might one 
day fare with her lovely, beautiful park. She therefore 
answered without any discomposure : "You and I are not 
old enough yet to have lived through very much of these 
contradictions; and yet when I look back into my own 


Elective Affinities 

early youth, when I remember the style of complaints 
which I used then to hear from older people, and when 
I think at the same time of what the country and the 
town then were, I have nothing to advance against what 
you say. But is there nothing which one can do to rem- 
edy this natural course of things? Are father and son, 
parents and children, to be always thus unable to under- 
stand each other ? You have been so kind as to prophesy 
a boy to me. Is it necessary that he must stand in con- 
tradiction to his father? Must he destroy what his par- 
ents have erected, instead of completing it, instead of 
following on upon the same idea, and elevating it?" 

"There is a rational remedy for it," replied the Assist- 
ant. "But it is one which will be but seldom put in prac- 
tise by men. The father should raise his son to a joint 
ownership with himself. He should permit him to plant 
and to build; and allow him the same innocent liberty 
which he allows to himself. One form of activity may 
be woven into another, but it can not be pieced on to it 
A young shoot may be readily and easily grafted with an 
old stem, to which no grown branch admits of being 

The Assistant was glad to have had the opportunity, 
at the moment when he saw himself obliged to take his 
leave, of saying something agreeable to Charlotte, and 
thus making himself a new link to secure her favor. He 
had been already too long absent from home, and yet he 
could not make up his mind to return there, until after a 
full conviction that he must allow the approaching epoch 


Elective Affinities 

of Charlotte's confinement first to pass by, before he could 
look for any decision from her in respect to Ottilie. He 
therefore accommodated himself to the circumstances, and 
returned with these prospects and hopes to the Superior. 

Charlotte's confinement was now approaching; she 
kept more in her own room. The ladies who had gath- 
ered about her were her closest companions. Ottilie 
managed all domestic matters, hardly able, however, the 
while, to think what she was doing. She had indeed 
utterly resigned herself; she desired to continue to exert 
herself to the extent of her power for Charlotte, for the 
child, for Edward. But she could not see how it would 
be possible for her. Nothing could save her from utter 
distraction, except patiently to do the duty which each 
day brought with it. 

A son was brought happily into the world, and the 
ladies declared, with one voice, it was the very image of 
its father. Only Ottilie, as she wished the new mother 
joy, and kissed the child with all her heart, was unable 
to see the likeness. Once already Charlotte had felt most 
painfully the absence of her husband, when she had to 
make preparations for her daughter's marriage. And 
now the father could not be present at the birth of his 
son. He could not have the choosing of the name by 
which the child was hereafter to be called. 

The first among all Charlotte's friends who came to 
wish her joy was Mittler. He had placed expresses ready 
to bring him news the instant the event took place. He 
was admitted to see her, and, scarcely able to conceal 


Elective Affinities 

his triumph even before Ottilie, when alone with Char- 
lotte he broke fairly out with it; and was at once ready 
with means to remove all anxieties, and set aside all 
immediate difficulties. The baptism should not be de- 
layed a day longer than necessary. The old clergyman, 
who had one foot already in the grave, should leave his 
blessing, to bind together the past and the future. The 
child should be called Otto; what name would he bear 
so fitly as that of his father and of his father's friend ? 

It required the peremptory resolution of this man to set 
aside the innumerable considerations, arguments, hesita- 
tions, difficulties ; what this person knew, and that person 
knew better; the opinions, up and down, and backward 
and forward, which every friend volunteered. It always 
happens on such occasions that when one inconvenience 
is removed, a fresh inconvenience seems to arise ; and in 
wishing to spare all sides, we inevitably go wrong on one 
side or the other. 

The letters to friends and relations were all undertaken 
by Mittler, and they were to be written and sent off at 
once. It was highly necessary, he thought, that the good 
fortune which he considered so important for the family 
should be known as widely as possible through the ill- 
natured and misinterpreting world. For indeed these late 
entanglements and perplexities had got abroad among the 
public, which at all times has a conviction that whatever 
happens, happens only in order that it may have some- 
thing to talk about. 

The ceremony of the baptism was to be observed with 


Elective Affinities 

all due honor, but it was to be as brief and as private as 
possible. The people came together; Ottilie and Mittler 
were to hold the child as sponsors. The old pastor, sup- 
ported by the servants of the church, came in with slow 
steps ; the prayers were offered. The child lay in Ottilie's 
arms, and as she was looking affectionately down at it, it 
opened its eyes and she was not a little startled when she 
seemed to see her own eyes looking at her. The likeness 
would have surprised any one. Mittler, who next had 
to receive the child, started as well ; he fancying he saw 
in the little features a most striking likeness to the Cap- 
tain. He had never seen a resemblance so marked. 

The infirmity of the good old clergyman had not per- 
mitted him to accompany the ceremony with more than 
the usual liturgy. 

Mittler, however, who was full of his subject, recol- 
lected his old performances when he had been in the min- 
istry, and indeed it was one of his peculiarities that on 
every sort of occasion he always thought what he would 
like to say, and how he would express himself about it. 

At this time he was the less able to contain himself, 
as he was now in the midst of a circle consisting entirely 
of well-known friends. He began therefore toward the 
conclusion of the service to put himself quietly into the 
place of the clergyman ; to make cheerful speeches aloud, 
expressive of his duty and his hopes as godfather, and 
to dwell all the longer on th'e subject, as fie thought fie 
saw in Charlotte's gratified manner that she was pleased 
with his doing so. 


Elective Affinities 

It altogether escaped the eagerness of the orator that 
the good old man would gladly have sat down; still less 
did he think that he was on the way to occasion a more 
serious evil. After he had described with all his power 
of impressiveness the relation in which every person pres- 
ent stood toward the child, thereby putting Ottilie's com- 
posure sorely to the proof, he turned at last to the old 
man with the words, "And you, my worthy father, you 
may now well say with Simeon, 'Lord, now lettest thou 
thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen the 
savior of this house.' ' 

He was now in full swing toward a brilliant perora- 
tion, when he perceived the old man to whom he held 
out the child, first appear a little to incline toward it, 
and immediately after to totter and sink backward. 
Hardly prevented from falling, he was lifted to a seat; 
but, notwithstanding the instant assistance which was 
rendered, he was found to be dead. 

To see thus side by side birth and death, the coffin and 
the cradle, to see them and to realize them, to compre- 
hend, not with the eye of imagination, but with the bodily 
eye, at one moment these fearful opposites, was a hard 
trial to the spectators; the harder, the more utterly it 
had taken them by surprise. Ottilie alone stood contem- 
plating the slumberer, whose features still retained their 
gentle, sweet expression, with a kind of envy. The life of 
her soul was killed; why should the bodily life any longer 
drag on in weariness ? 

But though Ottilie was frequently led by melancholy 


Elective Affinities 

incidents which occurred in the day to thoughts of the 
past, of separation and of loss, at night she had strange 
visions given her to comfort her, which assured her of the 
existence of her beloved, and thus strengthened her and 
gave her life for her own. When she laid herself down 
at night to rest, and was floating among sweet sensations 
between sleep and waking, she seemed to be looking into 
a clear but softly illuminated space. In this she would see 
Edward with the greatest distinctness, and not in the 
dress in which she had been accustomed to see him, but 
in military uniform; never in the same position, but al- 
ways in a natural one, and not the least with anything 
fantastic about him, either standing or walking, or lying 
down or riding. The figure, which was painted with the 
utmost minuteness, moved readily before her without any 
effort of hers, without her willing it or exerting her im- 
agination to produce it. Frequently she saw him sur- 
rounded with something in motion, which was darker 
than the bright ground; but the figures were shadowy, 
and she could scarcely distinguish them sometimes they 
were like men, sometimes they were like horses, or like 
trees, or like mountains. She usually went to sleep in 
the midst of the apparition, and when, after a quiet night, 
she woke again in the morning, she felt refreshed and 
comforted; she could say to herself, Edward still lives, 
and she herself was still remaining in the closest relation 
toward him. 


Elective Affinities 


THE spring was come ; it was late, but it therefore 
burst out more rapidly and more exhilaratingly than 
usual. Ottilie now found in the garden the fruits of her 
carefulness. Everything shot up and came out in leaf 
and flower at its proper time. A number of plants which 
she had been training up under glass frames and in hot- 
beds now burst forward at once to meet, at last, the ad- 
vances of nature; and whatever there was to do, and to 
take care of, it did not remain the mere labor of hope 
which it had been, but brought its reward in immediate 
and substantial enjoyment. 

There was many a chasm, however, among the finest 
shoots produced by Luciana's wild ways, for which she 
had to console the gardener, and the symmetry of many 
a leafy coronet was destroyed. She tried to encourage 
him to hope that it would all be soon restored again, but 
he had too deep a feeling, and too pure an idea of the 
nature of his business, for such grounds of comfort to 
be of much service with him. Little as the gardener 
allowed himself to have his attention dissipated by other 
tastes and inclinations, he could the less bear to have the 
peaceful course interrupted which the plant follows to- 
ward its enduring or its transient perfection. A plant 
is like a self-willed man, out of whom we can obtain all 


Elective Affinities 

which we desire, if we will only treat him his own way. 
A calm eye, a silent method, in all seasons of the year, 
and at every hour, to do exactly what has then to be done, 
is required of no one perhaps more than of a gardener. 
These qualities the good man possessed in an eminent de- 
gree, and it was on that account that Ottilie liked so well 
to work with him; but for some time past he had not 
found himself able to exercise his peculiar talent with 
any pleasure to himself. Whatever concerned the fruit- 
gardening or kitchen-gardening, as well as whatever had 
in time past been required in the ornamental gardens, he 
understood perfectly. One man succeeds in one thing, 
another in another; he succeeded in these. In his man- 
agement of the orangery, of the bulbous flowers, in bud- 
ding shoots and growing cuttings from the carnations 
and auriculas, he might challenge nature herself. But 
the new ornamental shrubs and fashionable flowers re- 
mained in a measure strange to him. He had a kind of 
shyness of the endless field of botany, which had been 
lately opening itself, and the strange names humming 
about his ears made him cross and ill-tempered. The 
orders for flowers which had been made by his lord and 
lady in the course of the past year he considered so much 
useless waste and extravagance. All the more, as he saw 
many valuable plants disappear ; and as he had ceased to 
stand on the best possible terms with the nursery gar- 
deners, who he fancied had not been serving him honestly. 
Consequently, after a number of attempts, he had 
formed a plan, in which Ottilie encouraged him the more 


Elective Affinities 

readily, because its first essential condition was the return 
of Edward, whose absence in this, as in many other mat- 
ters, every day had to be felt more and more seriously. 

Now that the plants were ever striking new roots, and 
putting out their shoots, Ottilie felt herself even more 
fettered to this spot. It was just a year since she had 
come there as a stranger, as a mere insignificant creature. 
How much had she not gained for herself since that time ! 
but, alas ! how much had she not also since that time lost 
again ! Never had she been so rich, and never so poor. 
The feelings of her loss and of her gain alternated mo- 
mentarily one with another, chasing each other through 
her heart; and she could find no other means to help 
herself, except always to set to work again at what lay 
nearest to her, with such interest as she could command. 

That everything which she knew to be dear to Edward 
received especial care from her may be supposed. And 
why should she not hope that he himself would now soon 
come back again ; and that when present, he would show 
himself grateful for all the care and pains which she 
had taken for him in his absence? 

But there was also a far different employment which 
she took upon herself in his service; she had undertaken 
the principal charge of the child, whose immediate at- 
tendant it was all the easier for her to be, as they had 
determined not to put it into the hands of a nurse, but 
to bring it up themselves by hand with milk and water. 
In the beautiful season it was much out of doors, enjoying 
the free air, and Ottilie liked best to take it out herself, 


Elective Affinities 

to carry the unconscious sleeping infant among the 
flowers and blossoms which should one day smile so 
brightly on its childhood among the young shrubs and 
plants, which, by their youth, seemed designed to grow 
up with the young lord to their after stature. When she 
looked about her, she did not hide from herself to what 
a high position that child was born : far and wide, wher- 
ever the eye could see, all would one day belong to him. 
How desirable, how necessary it must therefore be, that 
it should grow up under the eyes of its father and its mo- 
ther, and renew and strengthen the union between them. 

Ottilie saw all this so clearly that she represented it 
to herself as conclusively decided, and for herself, as con- 
cerned with it, she never felt at all. Under this fair heaven, 
by this bright sunshine, at once it became clear to her that 
her love, if it would perfect itself, must become altogether 
unselfish; and there were many moments in which she 
believed it was an elevation which she had already at- 
tained. She only desired the well-being of her friend. 
She fancied herself able to resign him, and never to see 
him any more, if she could only know that he was happy. 
The one only determination which she formed for her- 
self was never to belong to another. 

They had taken care that the autumn should be no less 
brilliant than the spring. Sunflowers were there, and 
all the other plants which are never tired of blossoming 
in autumn, and continue boldly on into the cold; asters 
especially were sown in abundance, and scattered about in 
all directions, to form a starry heaven upon the earth. 


Elective Affinities 


"Any good thought which we have read, anything 
striking which we have heard, we commonly enter in our 
diary ; but if we would take the trouble, at the same time, 
to copy out i of our friends' letters the remarkable obser- 
vations, the original ideas, the hasty words so pregnant in 
meaning, which we might find in them, we should then 
be rich indeed. We lay aside letters never to read them 
again, and at last we destroy them out of discretion, and 
so disappears the most beautiful, the most immediate 
breath of life, irrecoverably for ourselves and for others. 
I intend to make amends in future for such neglect." 

"So, then, once more the old story of the year is being 
repeated over again. We are come now, thank God, 
again to its most charming chapter. The violets and the 
Mayflowers are as its superscriptions and its vignettes. 
It always makes a pleasant impression on us when we 
open again at these pages in the book of life." 

"We find fault with the poor, particularly with the lit- 
tle ones among them, when they loiter about the streets 
and beg. Do we not observe that they begin to work 
again as soon as ever there is anything for them to do? 
Hardly has nature unfolded her smiling treasures than 
the children are at once upon her track to open out a call- 
ing for themselves. None of them beg any more; they 
have each a nosegay to offer you ; they were out and gath- 
ering it before you had awakened out of your sleep, and 
the supplicating face looks as sweetly at you as the present 


Elective Affinities 

which the hand is holding out. No one looks miserable 
who feels he has a right to make a demand upon you." 

"How is it that the year sometimes seems so short, 
and sometimes is so long? How is it that it is so short 
when it is passing, and so long as we look back over it? 
When I think of the past (and it never comes so power- 
fully over me as in the garden), I feel how the perishing 
and the enduring work one upon the other, and there is 
nothing whose endurance is so brief as not to leave behind 
it some trace of itself, something in its own likeness." 

"We are able to tolerate the winter. We fancy that 
we can extend ourselves more freely when the trees are 
so spectral, so transparent. They are nothing, but they 
conceal nothing ; but when once the germs and buds begin 
to show, then we become impatient for the full foliage 
to come out, for the landscape to put on its body, and 
the tree to stand before us as a form." 

"Everything which is perfect in its kind must pass out 
beyond and transcend its kind. It must be an inimitable 
something of another and a higher nature. In many of 
its tones the nightingale is only a bird; then it rises up 
above its class, and seems as if it would teach every feath- 
ered creature what singing really is." 

"A life without love, without the presence of the be- 
loved, is nothing but a mere magic-lantern show. We 
draw out slide after slide, swiftly tiring of each, and 
pushing it back to make haste to the next. Even what 
we know to be good and important hangs but wearily 
together ; every step is an end, and a fresh beginning. 


Elective Affinities 


CHARLOTTE meanwhile was well and in good spirits. 
She was happy in her beautiful boy, whose fair promis- 
ing little form every hour was a delight to both her eyes 
and heart. In him she found a new link to connect her 
with the world and with her property. Her old activity 
began anew to stir in her again. 

Look which way she would, she saw how much had 
been done in the year that was past, and it was a pleas- 
ure to her to contemplate it. Enlivened by the strength 
of these feelings, she climbed up to the summer-house 
with Ottilie and the child, and as she laid the latter down 
on the little table, as on the altar of her house, and saw 
the two seats still vacant, she thought of gone-by times, 
and fresh hopes rose out before her for herself and for 

Young ladies, perhaps, look timidly round them at this 
or that young man, carrying on a silent examination, 
whether they would like to have him for a husband ; but 
whoever has a daughter or a female ward to care for 
takes a wider circle in her survey. And so it fared at 
this moment with Charlotte, to whom, as she thought of 
how they had once sat side by side in that summer-house, 


Elective Affinities 

a union did not seem impossible between the Captain and 
Ottilie. It had not remained unknown to her that the 
plans for the advantageous marriage, which had been 
proposed to the Captain, had come to nothing. 

Charlotte went on up the cliff, and Ottilie carried the 
child. A number of reflections crowded upon the former. 
Even on the firm land there are frequent enough ship- 
wrecks, and the true wise conduct is to recover ourselves, 
and refit our vessel as fast as possible. Is life to be cal- 
culated only by its gains and losses ? Who has not made 
arrangement on arrangement, and has not seen them 
broken in pieces ? How often does not a man strike into 
a road and lose it again ! How often are we not turned 
aside from one point which we have sharply before our 
eye, but only to reach some higher stage. The traveler, 
to his greatest annoyance, breaks a wheel upon his jour- 
ney, and through this unpleasant accident makes some 
charming acquaintance, and forms some new connection, 
which has an influence on all his life. Destiny grants us 
our wishes, but in its own way, in order to give us some- 
thing beyond our wishes. 

Among these and similar reflections they reached the 
new building on the hill, where they intended to establish 
themselves for the summer. The view all round them 
was far more beautiful than could have been supposed; 
every little obstruction had been removed; all the love- 
liness of the landscape, whatever nature, whatever the 
season of the year had done for it, came out in its beauty 
before the eye ; and already the young plantations, which 

(A) 13 VOL. 2 

Elective Affinities 

had been made to fill up a few openings, were beginning 
to look green, and to form an agreeable connecting link 
between parts which before stood separate. 

The house itself was nearly habitable; the views, par- 
ticularly from the upper rooms, were of the richest vari- 
ety. The longer you looked around you, the more beau- 
ties you discovered. What magnificent effects would not 
be produced here at the different hours of day by sun- 
light and by moonlight ! Nothing could be more delight- 
ful than to come and live there, and now that she found 
all the rough work finished, Charlotte longed to be busy 
again. An upholsterer, a tapestry-hanger, a painter, who 
could lay on the colors with patterns, and a little gilding, 
were all which were required, and these were soon found, 
and in a short time the building was completed. Kitchen 
and cellar stores were quickly laid in; being so far from 
the castle, it was necessary to have all essentials provided ; 
and the two ladies with the child went up and settled 
there. From this residence, as from a new centre point, 
unknown walks opened out to them; and in these high 
regions the free fresh air and the beautiful weather were 
thoroughly delightful. 

Ottilie's favorite walk, sometimes alone, sometimes 
with the child, was down below, toward the plane trees ; 
along a pleasant footpath, leading directly to the point 
where one of the boats was kept chained in which people 
used to go across the water. She often indulged herself 
in an expedition on the water, only without the child, as 
Charlotte was a little uneasy about it. She never missed, 


Elective Affinities 

however, paying a daily visit to the castle garden and the 
gardener, and going to look with him at his show of 
greenhouse plants, which were all out now, enjoying the 

free air. 


At this beautiful season, Charlotte was much pleased 
to receive a visit from an English nobleman, who had 
made acquaintance with Edward abroad, having met him 
more than once, and who was now curious to see the lay- 
ing out of his park, which he had heard so much admired. 
He brought with him a letter of introduction from the 
Count, and introduced at the same time a quiet but most 
agreeable man as his traveling companion. He went 
about seeing everything, sometimes with Charlotte and 
Ottilie, sometimes with the gardeners and the foresters, 
often with his friend, and now and then alone ; and they 
could perceive clearly from his observations that he took 
an interest in such matters, and understood them well; 
indeed, that he had himself probably executed many such. 

Although he was now advanced in life, he entered 
warmly into everything which could serve for an orna- 
ment to life, or contribute anything to its importance. 

In his presence the ladies came first properly to enjoy 
what was round them. His practised eye received every 
effect in its freshness, and he found all the more pleasure 
in what was before him, as he had not previously known 
the place, and was scarcely able to distinguish what man 
had done there from what nature had presented to him 
ready made. 

We may even say that through his remarks the park 


Elective Affinities 

grew and enriched itself; he was able to anticipate in 
their fulfilment the promises of the growing plantations. 
There was not a spot where there was any effect which 
could be either heightened or produced, but what he ob- 
served it. 

In one place he pointed to a fountain which, if it was 
cleaned out, promised to be the most beautiful spot for 
a picnic party. In another, to a cave which had only to 
be enlarged and swept clear of rubbish to form a desirable 
seat. A few trees might be cut down, and a view would 
be opened from it of some grand masses of rock, tower- 
ing magnificently against the sky. He wished the owners 
joy that so much was still remaining for them to do, and 
he besought them not to be in a hurry about it, but to 
keep for themselves for years to come the pleasures of 
shaping and improving. 

At the hours which the ladies usually spent alone he 
was never in the way, for he was occupied the greatest 
part of the day in catching such views in the park as 
would make good paintings, in a portable camera ob- 
scura, and drawing from them, in order to secure some 
desirable fruits from his travels for himself and others. 
For many years past he had been in the habit of doing 
this in all remarkable places which he visited, and had 
provided himself by it with a most charming and inter- 
esting collection. He showed the ladies a large portfolio 
which he had brought with him, and entertained them 
with the pictures and with descriptions. And it was a 
real delight to them, here in their solitude, to travel so 


Elective Affinities 

pleasantly over the world, and see sweep past them shores 
and havens, mountains, lakes, and rivers, cities, castles, 
and a hundred other localities which have a name in 

Each of the two ladies had an especial interest in it 
Charlotte the more general interest in whatever was his- 
torically remarkable ; Ottilie dwelling in preference on the 
scenes of which Edward used most to talk where he 
liked best to stay, and which he would most often revisit. 
Every man has somewhere, far or near, his peculiar lo- 
calities which attract him ; scenes which, according to his 
character, either from first impressions, or from particu- 
lar associations, or from habit, have a charm for him 
beyond all others. 

She, therefore, asked the Earl which, of all these 
places, pleased him best, where he would like to settle, 
and live for himself, if he might choose. There was 
more than one lovely spot which he pointed out, with 
what had happened to him there to make him love and 
value it ; and the peculiar accentuated French in which he 
spoke made it most pleasant to listen to him. 

To the further question, which was his ordinary resi- 
dence, which he properly considered his home, he replied, 
without any hesitation, in a manner quite unexpected by 
the ladies: 

"I have accustomed myself by this time to be at home 
everywhere, and I find, after all, that it is much more 
agreeable to allow others to plant, and build, and keep 
house for me. I have no desire to return to my own pos- 


Elective Affinities 

sessions, partly on political grounds, but principally be- 
cause my son, for whose sake alone it was any pleasure 
to me to remain and work there who will, by and by, 
inherit it, and with whom I hoped to enjoy it took no 
interest in the place at all, but has gone out to India, 
where, like many other foolish fellows, he fancies he can 
make a higher use of his life. He is more likely to 
squander it. 

"Assuredly we spend far too much labor and outlay 
in preparation for life. Instead of beginning at once to 
make ourselves happy in a moderate condition, we spread 
ourselves out wider and wider, only to make ourselves 
more and more uncomfortable. Who is there now to 
enjoy my mansion, my park, my gardens? Not I, nor 
any of mine strangers, visitors, or curious, restless 

"Even with large means we are ever but half and half 
at home, especially in the country, where we miss many 
things to which we have become accustomed in town. 
The book for which we are most anxious is not to be 
had, and just the thing which we most wanted is for- 
gotten. We take to being domestic, only again to go 
out of ourselves; if we do not go astray of our own will 
and caprice, circumstances, passions, accidents, necessity, 
and one does not know what besides, manage it for us." 

Little did the Earl imagine how deeply his friend 
would be touched by these random observations. It is 
a danger to which we are all of us exposed when we ven- 
ture on general remarks in a society the circumstances 


Elective Affinities 

of which we might have supposed were well enough 
known to us. Such casual wounds, even from well- 
meaning, kindly-disposed people, were nothing new to 
Charlotte. She so clearly, so thoroughly knew and un- 
derstood the world, that it gave her no particular pain if 
it did happen that through somebody's thoughtlessness or 
imprudence she had her attention forced into this or that 
unpleasant direction. But it was very different with 
Ottilie. At her half-conscious age, at which she rather 
felt than saw, and at which she was disposed, indeed 
was obliged, to turn her eyes away from what she should 
not or would not see, Ottilie was thrown by this melan- 
choly conversation into the most pitiable state. It rudely 
tore away the pleasant veil from before her eyes, and it 
seemed to her as if everything which had been done all 
this time for house and court, for park and garden, for 
all their wide environs, were utterly in vain, because he 
to whom it all belonged could not enjoy it; because he, 
like their present visitor, had been driven out to wander 
up and down in the world and, indeed, in the most peril- 
ous paths of it by those who were nearest and dearest 
to him. She was accustomed to listen in silence, but on 
this occasion she sat on in the most painful condition; 
which, indeed, was made rather worse than better by what 
the stranger went on to say, as he continued with his 
peculiar, humorous gravity : 

"I think I am now on the right way. I look upon my- 
self steadily as a traveler, who renounces many things in 
order to enjoy more. I am accustomed to change ; it has 


Elective Affinities 

become, indeed, a necessity to me; just as in the opera, 
people are always looking out for new and new decora- 
tions, because there have aready been so many. I know 
very well what I am to expect from the best hotels, and 
what from the worst. It may be as good or it may be 
as bad as it will, but I nowhere find anything to which I 
am accustomed, and in the end it comes to much the same 
thing, whether we depend for our enjoyment entirely on 
the regular order of custom, or entirely on the caprices 
of accident. I have never to vex myself now, because 
this thing is mislaid, or that thing is lost; because the 
room in which I live is uninhabitable, and I must have 
it repaired; because somebody has broken my favorite 
cup, and for a long time nothing tastes well out of any 
other. All this I am happily raised above. If the house 
catches fire about my ears, my people quietly pack my 
things up, and we pass away out of the town in search 
of other quarters. And considering all these advantages, 
when I reckon carefully, I calculate that, by the end of 
the year, I have not sacrificed more than it would have 
cost me to be at home." 

In this description Ottilie saw nothing but Edward 
before her; how he too was now amidst discomfort and 
hardship, marching along untrodden roads, lying out in 
the fields in danger and want, and in all this insecurity 
and hazard growing accustomed to be homeless and 
friendless, learning to fling away everything that he might 
have nothing to lose. Fortunately, the party separated 
for a short time. Ottilie escaped to her room, where she 


Elective Affinities 

could give way to her tears. No weight of sorrow had 
ever pressed so heavily upon her as this clear perception 
(which she tried, as people usually do, to make still 
clearer to herself), that men love to dally with and ex- 
aggerate the evils which circumstances have once begun 
to inflict upon them. 

The state in which Edward was came before her in a 
light so piteous, so miserable, that she made up her mind, 
let it cost her what it would, that she would do every- 
thing in her power to unite him again with Charlotte, 
and she herself would go and hide her sorrow and her 
love in some silent scene, and beguile the time with such 
employment as she could find. 

Meanwhile the Earl's companion, a quiet, sensible 
man and a keen observer, had remarked the mistake in the 
conversation, and spoke to his friend about it. The lat- 
ter knew nothing of the circumstances of the family ; but 
the other being one of those persons whose principal in- 
terest in traveling lay in gathering up the strange occur- 
rences which arose out of the natural or artificial rela- 
tions of society, which were produced by the conflict of 
the restraint of law with the violence of the will, of the 
understanding with the reason, of passion with preju- 
dice had some time before made himself acquainted with 
the outline of the story, and since he had been in the fam- 
ily he had learned exactly all that had taken place, and 
the present position in which things were standing. 

The Earl, of course, was very sorry, but it was not a 
thing to make him uneasy. A man must hold his tongue 


Elective Affinities 

altogether in society if he is never to find himself in such 
a position; for not only remarks with meaning in them, 
but the most trivial expressions may happen to clash in 
an inharmonious key with the interest of somebody 

"We will set things right this evening," said he, "and 
escape from any general conversation ; you shall let them 
hear one of the many charming anecdotes with which your 
portfolio and your memory have enriched themselves 
while we have been abroad." 

However, with the best intentions, the strangers did 
not, on this next occasion, succeed any better in gratify- 
ing their friends with unalloyed entertainment. The 
Earl's friend told a number of singular stories some 
serious, some amusing, some touching, some terrible 
with which he had roused their attention and strained 
their interest to the highest tension, and he thought to 
conclude with a strange but softer incident, little dream- 
ing how nearly it would touch his listeners. 


"Two children of neighboring families, a boy and a 
girl, of an age which would suit well for them at some 
future time to marry, were brought up together with this 
agreeable prospect, and the parents on both sides, who 
were people of some position in the world, looked forward 
with pleasure to their future union. 

"It was too soon observed, however, that the purpose 
seemed likely to fail; the dispositions of both children 


Elective Affinities 

promised everything which was good, but there was an 
unaccountable antipathy between them. Perhaps they 
were too much like each other. Both were thoughtful, 
clear in their wills, and firm in their purposes. Each 
separately was beloved and respected by his or her com- 
panions, but whenever they were together they were 
always antagonists. Forming separate plans for them- 
selves, they only met mutually to cross and thwart one 
another; never emulating each other in pursuit of one 
aim, but always fighting for a single object. Good- 
natured and amiable everywhere else, they were spiteful 
and even malicious whenever they came in contact. 

"This singular relation first showed itself in their 
childish games, and it continued with their advancing 
years. The boys used to play at soldiers, divide into 
parties, and give each other battle, and the fierce, haughty 
young lady set herself at once at the head of one of the 
armies, and fought against the other with such animosity 
and bitterness that the latter would have been put to a 
shameful flight, except for the desperate bravery of her 
own particular rival, who at last disarmed his antagonist 
and took her prisoner ; and even then she defended herself 
with so much fury that to save his eyes from being torn 
out, and at the same time not to injure his enemy, he had 
been obliged to take off his silk handkerchief and tie her 
hands with it behind her back. 

"This she never forgave him: she made so many at- 
tempts, she laid so many plans to injure him, that the 
parents, who had been long watching these singular pas- 


Elective Affinities 

sions, came to an understanding together and resolved 
to separate these two hostile creatures, and sacrifice their 
favorite hopes. 

"The boy shot rapidly forward in the new situation in 
which he was placed. He mastered every subject which 
he was taught. His friends and his own inclination chose 
the army for his profession, and everywhere, let him be 
where he would, he was looked up to and beloved. His 
disposition seemed formed to labor for the well-being and 
the pleasure of others; and he himself, without being 
clearly conscious of it, was in himself happy at having got 
rid of the only antagonist which nature had assigned to 

"The girl, on the other hand, became at once an altered 
creature. Her growing age, the progress of her educa- 
tion, above all, her own inward feelings, drew her away 
from the boisterous games with boys in which she had 
creature. Her growing age, the progress of her educa- 
thing ; there was nothing anywhere about her which could 
deserve to excite her hatred, and she had never found 
any one whom she could think worthy of her love. 

"A young man, somewhat older than her previous 
neighbor-antagonist, of rank, property, and consequence, 
beloved in society, and much sought after by women, be- 
stowed his affections upon her. It was the first time that 
friend, lover, or servant had displayed any interest in her. 
The preference which he showed for her above others 
who were older, more cultivated, and of more brilliant 
pretensions than herself, was naturally gratifying; the 


Elective Affinities 

constancy of his attention, which was never obtrusive, 
his standing by her faithfully through a number of un- 
pleasant incidents, his quiet suit, which was declared in- 
deed to her parents, but which as she was still very young 
he did not press, only asking to be allowed to hope; all 
this engaged him to her, and custom and the assumption 
in the world that the thing was already settled carried 
her along with it. She had so often been called his bride 
that at last she began to consider herself so, and neither 
she nor any one else ever thought any further trial could 
be necessary before she exchanged rings with the person 
who for so long a time had passed for her bridegroom. 

"The peaceful course which the affair had all along 
followed was not at all precipitated by the betrothal. 
Things were allowed to go on both sides just as they 
were ; they were happy in being together, and they could 
enjoy to the end the fair season of the year as the spring 
of their future more serious life. 

"The absent youth had meanwhile grown up into every- 
thing which was most admirable. He had obtained a 
well-deserved rank in his profession, and came home on 
leave to visit his family. Toward his fair neighbor he 
found himself again in a natural but singular position. 
For some time past she had been nourishing in herself 
such affectionate family feelings as suited her position as 
a bride; she was in harmony with everything about her; 
she believed that she was happy, and in a certain sense 
she was so. Now first for a long time something again 
stood in her way. It was not to be hated she had be- 


Elective Affinities 

come incapable of hatred. Indeed the childish hatred, 
which had in fact been nothing more than an obscure 
recognition of inward worth, expressed itself now in a 
happy astonishment, in pleasure at meeting, in ready ac- 
knowledgments, in a half willing, half unwilling, and yet 
irresistible attraction; and all this was mutual. Their 
long separation gave occasion for longer conversations; 
even their old childish foolishness served, now that they 
had grown wiser, to amuse them as they looked back; 
and they felt as if at least they were bound to make good 
their petulant hatred by friendliness and attention to each 
other as if their first violent injustice to each other 
ought not to be left without open acknowledgment. 

"On his side it all remained in a sensible, desirable mod- 
eration. His position, his circumstances, his efforts, his 
ambition, found him so abundant an occupation, that the 
friendliness of this pretty bride he received as a very 
thankworthy present; but without, therefore, even so 
much as thinking of her in connection with himself, or 
entertaining the slightest jealousy of the bridegroom, 
with whom he stood on the best possible terms. 

"With her, however, it was altogether different. She 
seemed to herself as if she had awakened out of a dream. 
Her fightings with her young neighbor had been the be- 
ginnings of an affection ; and this violent antagonism was 
no more than an equally violent innate passion for him, 
first showing under the form of opposition. She could 
remember nothing else than that she had always loved 
him. She laughed over her martial encounter with him 


Elective Affinities 

with weapons in her hand ; she dwelt upon the delight of 
her feelings when he disarmed her. She imagined that it 
had given her the greatest happiness when he bound her ; 
and whatever she had done afterward to injure him, or to 
vex him, presented itself to her as only an innocent means 
of attracting his attention. She cursed their separation. 
She bewailed the sleepy state into which she had fallen. 
She execrated the insidious lazy routine which had be- 
trayed her into accepting so insignificant a bridegroom. 
She was transformed doubly transformed, forward or 
backward, whichever way we like to take it. 

"She kept her feelings entirely to herself; but if any 
one could have divined them and shared them with her, 
he could not have blamed her : for indeed the bridegroom 
could not sustain a comparison with the other as soon as 
they were seen together. If a sort of regard to the one 
could not be refused, the other excited the fullest trust 
and confidence. If one made an agreeable acquaintance, 
the other we should desire for a companion; and in ex- 
traordinary cases, where higher demands might have to 
be made on them, the bridegroom was a person to be 
utterly despaired of, while the other would give the feel- 
ing of perfect security. 

"There is a peculiar innate tact in women which dis- 
covers to them differences of this kind; and they have 
cause as well as occasion to cultivate it. 

"The more the fair bride was nourishing all these feel- 
ings in secret, the less opportunity there was for any one 
to speak a word which could tell in favor of her bride- 


Elective Affinities 

groom, to remind her of what her duty and their relative 
position advised and commanded indeed, what an un- 
alterable necessity seemed now irrevocably to require; 
the poor heart gave itself up entirely to its passion. 

"On one side she was bound inextricably to the bride- 
groom by the world, by her family, and by her own 
promise ; on the other, the ambitious young man made no 
secret of what he was thinking and planning for himself, 
conducting himself toward her as no more than a kind but 
not at all a tender brother, and speaking of his departure 
as immediately impending; and now it seemed as if her 
early childish spirit woke up again in her with all its 
spleen and violence, and was preparing itself in its dis- 
temper, on this higher stage of life, to work more 
effectively and destructively. She determined that she 
would die to punish the once hated, and now so passion- 
ately loved, youth for his want of interest in her; and as 
she could not possess himself, at least she would wed 
herself for ever to his imagination, and to his repentance. 
Her dead image should cling to him, and he should never 
be free from it. He should never cease to reproach him- 
self for not having understood, not examined, not valued 
her feelings toward him. 

"This singular insanity accompanied her wherever she 
went. She kept it concealed under all sorts of forms; 
and although people thought her very odd, no one was 
observant enough or clever enough to discover the real 
inward reason. 

"In the meantime, friends, relations, acquaintances had 


Elective Affinities 

exhausted themselves in contrivances for pleasure parties. 
Scarcely a day passed but something new and unexpected 
was set on foot. There was hardly a pretty spot in the 
country round which had not been decked out and pre- 
pared for the reception of some merry party. And now 
our young visitor before departing wished to do his part 
as well, and invited the young couple, with a small family 
circle, to an expedition on the water. They went on 
board a large, beautiful vessel dressed out in all its colors 
one of the yachts which have a small saloon and a cabin 
or two besides, and are intended to carry with them upon 
the water the comfort and conveniences of land. 

"They set out upon the broad river with music playing. 
The party had collected in the cabin, below deck, during 
the heat of the day, and were amusing themselves with 
games. Their young host, who could never remain with- 
out doing something, had taken charge of the helm, to 
relieve the old master of the vessel, and the latter had lain 
down and was fast asleep. It was a moment when the 
steerer required all his circumspectness, as the vessel was 
nearing a spot where two islands narrowed the channel 
of the river, while shallow banks of shingle stretching 
off, first on one side and then on the other, made the nav- 
igation difficult and dangerous. Prudent and sharp- 
sighted as he was, he thought for a moment that it would 
be better to wake the master; but he felt confident in 
himself, and he thought he would venture and make 
straight for the narrows. At this moment his fair enemy 
appeared upon deck with a wreath of flowers in her hair. 


Elective Affinities 

'Take this to remember me by,' she cried out. She took it 
off and threw it to the steerer. 'Don't disturb me,' he an- 
swered quickly, as he caught the wreath; 'I require all 
my powers and all my attention now/ 'You will never 
be disturbed by me any more/ she cried ; 'you will never 
see me again.' As she spoke, she rushed to the forward 
part of the vessel, and from thence she sprang into the 
water. Voice upon voice called out : 'Save her, save her, 
she is sinking !' He was in the most terrible difficulty. In 
the confusion the old shipmaster woke, and tried to catch 
the helm, which the young man bid him take. But there 
was no time to change hands. The vessel stranded ; and 
at the same moment, flinging off the heaviest of his upper 
garments, he sprang into the water and swam toward his 
beautiful enemy. The water is a friendly element to a 
man who is at home in it, and who knows how to deal 
with it; it buoyed him up, and acknowledged the strong 
swimmer as its master. He soon overtook the beautiful 
girl, who had been swept away before him ; he caught hold 
of her, raised her and supported her, and both of them 
were carried violently down by the current, till the shoals 
and islands were left far behind, and the river was again 
open and running smoothly. He now began to collect 
himself; they had passed the first immediate danger, in 
which he had been obliged to act mechanically without 
time to think; he raised his head as high as he could to 
look about him; and then swam with all his might to a 
low bushy point, which ran out conveniently into the 
stream. There he brought his fair burden to dry land, 


Elective Affinities 

but he could find no signs of life in her; he was in de- 
spair, when he caught sight of a trodden path leading 
among the bushes. Again he caught her up in his arms, 
hurried forward, and presently reached a solitary cottage. 
There he found kind, good people a young married 
couple; the misfortunes and the dangers explained them- 
selves instantly; every remedy he could think of was in- 
stantly applied; a bright fire blazed up: woolen blankets 
were spread on a bed, counterpane, cloaks, skins, whatever 
there was at hand which would serve for warmth, were 
heaped over her as fast as possible. The desire to save 
life overpowered, for the present, every other considera- 
tion. Nothing was left undone to bring back to life the 
beautiful half-torpid, naked body. It succeeded; she 
opened her eyes ! her friend was before her ; she threw her 
heavenly arms about his neck. In this position she re- 
mained for a time; and then a stream of tears burst out 
and completed her recovery. 'Will you forsake me/ she 
cried, 'now when I find you again thus?' 'Never/ he 
answered, 'never:' hardly knowing what he said or did. 
'Only consider yourself/ she added; 'take care of your- 
self, for your sake and for mine.' 

"She now began to collect herself, and for the first time 
recollected the state in which she was; she could not be 
ashamed before her darling, before her preserver; but she 
gladly allowed him to go, that he might take care of him- 
self; for the clothes which he still wore were wet and 

"Their young hosts considered what could be done. 


Elective Affinities 

The husband offered the young man, and the wife offered 
the fair lady, the clothes in which they had been married, 
which were hanging up in full perfection, and sufficient 
for a complete suit, inside and out, for two people. In 
a short time our pair of adventurers were not only 
equipped, but in full costume. They looked most charm- 
ing, gazed at one another, when they met, with admira- 
tion, and then with infinite affection, half laughing at the 
same time at the quaintness of their appearance, they fell 
into each other's arms. 

"The power of youth and the quickening spirit of love 
in a few moments completely restored them; and there 
was nothing wanted but music to have set them both off 

"To have found themselves brought from the water on 
dry land, from death into life, from the circle of their 
families into a wilderness, from despair into rapture, from 
indifference to affection and to love, all in a moment : the 
head was not strong enough to bear it; it must either 
burst, or go distracted ; or if so distressing an alternative 
were to be escaped, the heart must put out all its efforts. 

"Lost wholly in each other, it was long before they 
recollected the alarm and anxiety of those who had been 
left behind; and they themselves, indeed, could not well 
think, without alarm and anxiety, how they were again 
to encounter them. 'Shall we run away? shall we hide 
ourselves?' said the young man. 'We will remain to- 
gether,' she said, as she clung about his neck. 

"The peasant having heard them say that a party was 


Elective Affinities 

aground on the shoal, had hurried down, without stopping 
to ask another question, to the shore. When he arrived 
there, he saw the vessel coming safely down the stream. 
After much labor it had been got off ; and they were now 
going on in uncertainty; hoping to find their lost ones 
again somewhere. The peasant shouted and made signs 
to them, and at last caught the attention of those on 
board; then he ran to a spot where there was a con- 
venient place for landing, and went on signaling and 
shouting till the vessel's head was turned toward the 
shore; and what a scene there was for them when they 
landed! The parents of the two betrothed first pressed 
on the banks ; the poor loving bridegroom had almost lost 
his senses. They had scarcely learned that their dear 
children had been saved, when in their strang-e disguise 
the latter came forward out of the bushes to meet them. 
No one recognized them till they were come quite close. 
'Whom do I see?' cried the mothers. 'What do I see?' 
cried the fathers. The preserved ones flung themselves 
on the ground before them. 'Your children/ they called 
out ; 'a pair.' 'Forgive us !' cried the maiden. 'Give us 
your blessing !' cried the young man. 'Give us your bless- 
ing !' they cried both, as all the world stood still in wonder. 
'Your blessing!' was repeated the third time; and who 
would have been able to refuse it ?" 


Elective Affinities 


THE narrator made a pause, or rather he had already 
finished his story, before he observed the emotion into 
which Charlotte had been thrown by it. She got up, 
uttered some sort of an apology, and left the room. To 
her it was a well-known history. The principal incident 
in it had really taken place with the Captain and a neigh- 
bor of her own; not exactly, indeed, as the Englishman 
had related it. But the main features of it were the same. 
It had only been more finished off and elaborated in its 
details, as stories of that kind always are, when they have 
passed first through the lips of the multitude, and then 
through the fancy of a clever and imaginative narrator; 
the result of the process being usually to leave everything 
and nothing as it was. 

Ottilie followed Charlotte, as the two friends begged 
her to do ; and then it was the Earl's turn to remark, that 
perhaps they had made a second mistake, and that the 
subject of the story had been well known to or was in 
some way connected with the family. "We must take 
care," he added, "that we do no more mischief here; we 
seem to bring little good to our entertainers for all the 
kindness and hospitality which they have shown us; we 


Elective Affinities 

will make some excuse for ourselves, and then take our 

"I must confess," answered his companion, "that there 
is something else which still holds me here, which I 
should be very sorry to leave the house without seeing 
cleared up or in some way explained. You were too 
busy yourself yesterday when we were in the park 
with the camera, in looking for spots where you could 
make your sketches, to have observed anything else which 
was passing. You left the broad walk, you remember, 
and went to a sequestered place on the side of the lake. 
There was a fine view of the opposite shore which you 
wished to take. Well, Ottilie, who was with us, got up to 
follow ; and then proposed that she and I should find our 
way to you in the boat. I got in with her, and was de- 
lighted with the skill of my fair conductress. I assured 
her that never since I had been in Switzerland, where the 
young ladies so often fill the place of thej)oatmen, had I 
been so pleasantly ferried over the water. At the same 
time I could not help asking her why she had shown such 
an objection to going the way which you had gone, along 
the little by-path. I had observed her shrink from it 
with a sort of painful uneasiness. She was not at all 
offended. 'If you will promise not to laugh at me/ she 
answered, 'I will tell you as much as I know about it; 
but to myself it is a mystery which I can not explain. 
There is a particular spot in that path which I never pass 
without a strange shiver passing over me, which I do 
not remember ever feeling anywhere else, and which 

Elective Affinities 

I can not in the least understand. But I shrink from 
exposing myself to the sensation, because it is followed 
immediately after by a pain on the left side of my 
head, from which at other times I suffer severely.' We 
landed. Ottilie was engaged with you, and I took the 
opportunity of examining the spot, which she pointed 
out to me as we went by on the water. I was not a 
little surprised to find there distinct traces of coal, in 
sufficient quantities to convince me that at a short dis- 
tance below the surface there must be a considerable 
bed of it. 

"Pardon me, my Lord; I see you smile; and I know 
very well that you have no faith in these things about 
which I am so eager, and that it is only your sense and 
your kindness which enable you to tolerate me. How- 
ever, it is impossible for me to leave this place without 
trying on that beautiful creature an experiment with the 
pendulum." ' : ' L.'ud 

The Earl, whenever these matters came to be spoken 
of, never failed to repeat the same objections to them over 
and over again; and his friend endured them all quietly 
and patiently, remaining firm, nevertheless, to his own 
opinion, and holding to his own wishes. He, too, again 
repeated, that there was no reason, because the experiment 
did not succeed with every one, that they should give them 
up, as if there was nothing in them but fancy. They 
should be examined into all the more earnestly and scru- 
pulously; and there was no doubt that the result would 
be the discovery of a number of affinities of inorganic 


Elective Affinities 

creatures- for one another, and of organic creatures for 
them, and again for each other, which at present were 
unknown to us. 

He had already spread out his apparatus of gold rings, 
markasites, and other metallic substances, a pretty little 
box of which he always carried about with himself; 
and he suspended a piece of metal by a string over 
another piece, which he placed upon the table. "Now, 
my Lord," he said, "you may take what pleasure you 
please (I can see in your face what you are feeling), at 
perceiving that nothing will set itself in motion with me, 
or for me. But my operation is no more than a pretense ; 
when the ladies come back, they will be curious to know 
what strange work we are about." 

The ladies returned. Charlotte understood at once 
what was going on. "I have heard much of these things," 
she said; "but I never saw the effect myself. You have 
everything ready there. Let me try whether I can suc- 
ceed in producing anything." 

She took the thread in her hand, and as she was per- 
fectly serious, she held it steady, and without any agita- 
tion. Not the slightest motion, however, could be de- 
tected. Ottilie was then called upon to try. She held the 
pendulum still more quietly and unconsciously over the 
plate on the table. But in a moment the swinging piece 
of metal began to stir with a distinct rotatory action, and 
turned as they moved the position of the plate, first to 
one side and then to the other; now in circles, now in 
ellipses ; or else describing a series of straight lines ; doing 

(A) 14 VOL. 2 

Elective Affinities 

all the Earl's friend could expect, and far exceeding, in- 
deed, all his expectations. 

The Earl himself was a little staggered ; but the other 
could never be satisfied, from delight and curiosity, and 
begged for the experiment again and again with all sorts 
of variations. Ottilie was good-natured enough to grat- 
ify him ; till at last she was obliged to desire to be allowed 
to go, as her headache had come on again. In further 
admiration and even rapture, he assured her with en- 
thusiasm that he would cure her forever of her disorder, 
if she would only trust herself to his remedies. For a 
moment they did not know what he meant ; but Charlotte, 
who comprehended immediately after, declined his well- 
meant offer, not liking to have introduced and practised 
about her a thing of which she had always had the strong- 
est apprehensions. 

The strangers were gone, and notwithstanding their 
having been the inadvertent cause of strange and painful 
emotions, left the wish behind them, that this meeting 
might not be the last. Charlotte now made use of the 
beautiful weather to return visits in the neighborhood, 
which, indeed, gave her work enough to do, seeing that 
the whole country round, some from a real interest, some 
merely from custom, had been most attentive in calling 
to inquire after her. At home her delight was the sight 
of the child, and really it well deserved all love and inter- 
est. People saw in it a wonderful, indeed a miraculous 
child; the brightest, sunniest little face; a fine, well-pro- 
portioned body, strong and healthy; and what surprised 

Elective Affinities 

them more, the double resemblance, which became more 
and more conspicuous. In figure and in the features of 
the face, it was like the Captain ; the eyes every day it was 
less easy to distinguish from the eyes of Ottilie. 

Ottilie herself, partly from this remarkable affinity, per- 
haps still more under the influence of that sweet woman's 
feeling which makes them regard with the most tender 
affection the offspring, even by another, of the man they 
love, was as good as a mother to the little creature as it 
grew ; or rather, she was a second mother of another kind. 
If Charlotte was absent, Ottilie remained alone with the 
child and the nurse. Nanny had for some time past been 
jealous of the boy for monopolizing the entire affections 
of her mistress ; she had left her in a fit of crossness, and 
gone back to her mother. Ottilie would carry the child 
about in the open air, and by degrees took longer and 
longer walks with it. She took her bottle of milk to give 
the child its food when it wanted any. Generally, too, 
she took a book with her; and so with the child in her 
arms, reading and wandering, she made a very pretty 

Elective Affinities 


THE object of the campaign was attained, and Edward, 
with crosses and decorations, was honorably dismissed. 
He betook himself at once to the same little estate, where 
he found exact accounts of his family waiting for him, 
on whom all this time, without their having observed it 
or known of it, a sharp watch had been kept under his 
orders. His quiet residence looked most sweet and pleas- 
ant when he reached it. In accordance with his orders, 
various improvements had been made in his absence, and 
what was wanting to the establishment in extent, was 
compensated by its internal comforts and conveniences. 
Edward, accustomed by his more active habits of life 
to take decided steps, determined to execute a project 
which he long had sufficient time to think over. First of 
all, he invited the Major to come to him. This pleasure 
in meeting again was very great to both of them. The 
friendships of boyhood, like relationship of blood, pos- 
sess this important advantage, that mistakes and misun- 
derstandings never produce irreparable injury; and the 
old regard after a time will always reestablish itself. 

Edward began with inquiring about the situation of 
his friend, and learned that fortune had favored him ex- 


Elective Affinities 

actly as he most could have wished. He then half-seri- 
ously asked whether there was not something going for- 
ward about a marriage; to which he received a most 
decided and positive denial. 

"I can not and will not have any reserve with you," he 
proceeded. "I will tell you at once what my own feel- 
ings are, and what I intend to do. You know my passion 
for Ottilie ; you must long have comprehended that it was 
this which drove me into the campaign. I do not deny 
that I desired to be rid of a life which, without her, would 
be of no further value to me. At the same time, however, 
I acknowledge that I could never bring myself utterly 
to despair. The prospect of happiness with her was so 
beautiful, so infinitely charming, that it was not possible 
for me entirely to renounce it. Feelings, too, which I 
can not explain, and a number of happy omens, have com- 
bined to strengthen me in the belief, in the assurance, that 
Ottilie will one day be mine. The glass with our initials 
cut upon it, which was thrown into the air when the 
foundation-stone was laid, did not go to pieces; it was 
caught, and I have it again in my possession. After many 
miserable hours of uncertainty, spent in this place, I said to 
myself, 'I will put myself in the place of this glass, and it 
shall be an omen whether our union be possible or not. 
I will go ; I will seek for death ; not like a madman, but 
like a man who still hopes that he may live. Ottilie shall 
be the prize for which I fight. Ottilie shall be behind the 
ranks of the enemy ; in every entrenchment, in every be- 
leaguered fortress, I shall hope to find her, and to win 


Elective Affinities 

her. I will do wonders, with the wish to survive them; 
with the hope to gain Ottilie, not to lose her/ These feel- 
ings have led me on; they have stood by me through all 
dangers ; and now I find myself like one who has arrived 
at his goal, who has overcome every difficulty and who 
has nothing more left in his way. Ottilie is mine, and 
whatever lies between the thought and the execution of 
it, I can only regard as unimportant." 

"With a few strokes you blot out," replied the Major, 
"all the objections that we can or ought to urge upon you, 
and yet they must be repeated. I must leave it to your- 
self to recall the full value of your relation with your 
wife ; but you owe it to her, and you owe it to yourself, 
not to close your eyes to it. How can I so much as recol- 
lect that you have had a son given to you without ac- 
knowledging at once that you two belong to one another 
forever ; that you are bound, for this little creature's sake, 
to live united, that united you may educate it, and pro- 
vide for its future welfare?" 

"It is no more than the blindness of parents," answered 
Edward, "when they imagine their existence to be of so 
much importance to their children. Whatever lives finds 
nourishment and finds assistance ; and if the son who has 
early lost his father does not spend so easy, so favored a 
youth, he profits, perhaps, for that very reason, in being 
trained sooner for the world, and comes to a timely 
knowledge that he must accommodate himself to others, 
a thing which sooner or later we are all forced to learn. 
Here, however, even these considerations are irrelevant; 

Elective Affinities 

we are sufficiently well off to be able to provide for more 
children than one, and it is neither right nor kind to 
accumulate so large a property on a single head." 

The Major attempted to say something of Charlotte's 
worth, and Edward's long-standing attachment to her; 
but the latter hastily interrupted him. "We committed 
ourselves to a foolish thing, that I see all too clearly. 
Whoever, in middle age, attempts to realize the wishes 
and hopes of his early youth, invariably deceives himself. 
Each ten years of a man's life has its own fortunes, its 
own hopes, its own desires. Woe to him who, either by 
circumstances or by his own infatuation, is induced to 
grasp at anything before him or behind him. We have 
done a foolish thing. Are we to abide by it all our lives ? 
Are we, from some respect of prudence, to refuse to our- 
selves what the customs of the age do not forbid? In 
how many matters do men recall their intentions and their 
actions; and shall it not be allowed to them here, here, 
where the question is not of this thing or of that, but of 
everything ; not of our single condition of life, but of the 
whole complex life itself?" 

Again the Major powerfully and impressively urged 
on Edward to consider what he owed to his wife, what 
was due to his family, to the world, and to his own posi- 
tion ; but he could not succeed in producing the slightest 

"All these questions, my friend," he returned, "I have 
considered already again and again. They have passed 
before me in the storm of battle, when the earth was 


Elective Affinities 

shaking with the thunder of the cannon, with the balls 
singing and whistling round me, with my comrades fall- 
ing right and left, my horse shot under me, my hat pierced 
with bullets. They have floated before me by the still 
watch-fire under the starry vault of the sky. I have 
thought them all through, felt them all through. I have 
weighed them, and I have satisfied myself about them 
again and again, and now forever. At such moments 
why should I not acknowledge it to you? you too were in 
my thoughts, you too belonged to my circle; as, indeed, 
you and I have long belonged to one another. If I have 
ever been in your debt I am now in a position to repay 
it with interest ; if you have been in mine you have now 
the means to make it good to me. I know that you love 
Charlotte, and she deserves it. I know that you are 
not indifferent to her, and why should she not feel your 
worth ? Take her at my hand and give Ottilie to me, and 
we shall be the happiest beings upon the earth." 

"If you choose to assign me so high a character," re- 
plied the Major, "it is the more reason for me to be firm 
and prudent. Whatever there may be in this proposal 
to make it attractive to me, instead of simplifying the 
problem, it only increases the difficulty of it. The ques- 
tion is now of me as well as of you. The fortunes, the 
good name, the honor of two men, hitherto unsullied with' 
a breath, will be exposed to hazard by so strange a pro- 
ceeding, to call it by no harsher name, and we shall ap- 
pear before the world in a highly questionable light." 

"Our very characters being what they are," replied 


Elective Affinities 

Edward, "give us a right to take this single liberty. A 
man who has borne himself honorably through a whole 
life makes an action honorable which might appear am- 
biguous in others. As concerns myself, after these last 
trials which I have taken upon myself, after the difficult 
and dangerous actions which I have accomplished for 
others, I feel entitled now to do something for myself. 
For you and Charlotte, that part of the business may, 
if you like it, be given up; but neither you nor any one 
shall keep me from doing what I have determined. If I 
may look for help and furtherance, I shall be ready to 
do everything which can be wished ; but if I am to be left 
to myself, or if obstacles are to be thrown in my way, 
some extremity or other is sure to follow." 

The Major thought it his duty to combat Edward's 
purposes as long as it was possible; and now he changed 
the mode of his attack and tried a diversion. He seemed 
to give way, and only spoke of the form of what they 
would have to do to bring about this separation, and these 
new unions ; and so mentioned a number of ugly, undesir- 
able matters, which threw Edward into the worst of 

"I see plainly," he cried at last, "that what we desire 
can only be carried by storm, whether it be from our ene- 
mies or from our friends. I keep clearly before my own 
eyes what I demand, what, one way or another, I must 
have; and I will seize it promptly and surely. Connec- 
tions like ours, I know very well, can not be broken up 
and reconstructed again without much being thrown down 


Elective Affinities 

which is standing, and much having to give way which 
would be glad enough to continue. We shall come to no 
conclusion by thinking about it. All rights are alike to 
the understanding, and it is always easy to throw extra 
weight into the ascending scale. Do you make up your 
mind, my friend, to act^ and act promptly, for me and for 
yourself. Disentangle and untie the knots, and tie them 
up again. Do not be deterred from it by nice respects. 
We have already given the world something to say about 
us. It will talk about us once more; and when we have 
ceased to be a nine day's wonder, it will forget us as it 
forgets everything else, and allow us to follow our own 
way without further concern with us." " The Major had 
nothing further to say, and was at last obliged to sit 
silent; while Edward treated the affair as now conclu- 
sively settled, talked through in detail all that had to be 
done, and pictured the future in every most cheerful color, 
and then he went on again seriously and thoughtfully: 
"If we think to leave ourselves to the hope, to the expec- 
tation, that all will go right again of itself, that accident 
will lead us straight, and take care of us, it will be a most 
culpable self-deception. In such a way it would be im- 
possible for us to save ourselves, or reestablish our peace 
again. I who have been the innocent cause of it all, 
how am I ever to console myself ? By my own importu- 
nity I prevailed on Charlotte to write to you to stay with 
us; and Ottilie followed in consequence. We have had 
no more control over what ensued out of this, but we 
have the power to make it innocuous; to guide the new 


Elective Affinities 

circumstances to our own happiness. Can you turn away 
your eyes from the fair and beautiful prospects which I 
open to us? Can you insist to me, can you insist to us 
all, on a wretched renunciation of them? Do you think 
it possible ? Is it possible ? Will there be no vexations, 
no bitterness, no inconvenience to overcome, if we resolve 
to fall back into our old state? and will any good, any 
happiness whatever, arise out of it ? Will your own rank, 
will the high position which you have earned, be any 
pleasure to you, if you are to be prevented from visiting 
me, or from living with me ? And after what has passed, 
it would not be anything but painful. Charlotte and I, 
with all our property, would only find ourselves in a 
melancholy state. And if, like other men of the world, 
you can persuade yourself that years and separation will 
eradicate our feelings, will obliterate impressions so 
deeply engraved ; why, then the question is of these very 
years, which it would be better to spend in happiness and 
comfort than in pain and misery. But the last and most 
important point of all which I have to urge is this : sup- 
posing that we, our outward and inward condition being 
what it is, could nevertheless make up our minds to wait 
at all hazards, and bear what is laid upon us, what is to 
become of Ottilie ? She must leave our family ; she must 
go into society where we shall not be to care for her, and 
she will be driven wretchedly to and fro in a hard, cold 
world. Describe to me any situation in which Ottilie, 
without me, without us, could be happy, and you will then 
have employed an argument which will be stronger than 


Elective Affinities 

every other; and if I will not promise to yield to it, if I 
will not undertake at once to give up all my own hopes, 
I will at least reconsider the question, and see how what 
you have said will affect it." 

This problem was not so easy to solve; at least, no 
satisfactory answer to it suggested itself to his friend, 
and nothing was left to him except to insist again and 
again, how grave and serious, and in many senses how 
dangerous, the whole undertaking was ; and at least that 
they ought maturely to consider how they had better en- 
ter upon it. Edward agreed to this, and consented to 
wait before he took any steps ; but only under the condi- 
tion that his friend should not leave him until they had 
come to a perfect understanding about it, and until the 
first measures had been taken. 


Elective Affinities 


MEN who are complete strangers, and wholly indiffer- 
ent to one another, if they live a long time together, are 
sure both of them to expose something of their inner 
nature, and thus a kind of intimacy will arise between 
them. All the more was it to be expected that there would 
soon be no secrets between our two friends now that they 
were again under the same roof together, and in daily 
and hourly intercourse. They went over again the earlier 
stages of their history, and the Major confessed to Ed- 
ward that Charlotte had intended Ottilie for him at the 
time at which he returned from abroad, and hoped that 
some time or other he might marry her. Edward was in 
ecstasies at this discovery; he spoke without reserve of 
the mutual affection of Charlotte and the Major, which, 
because it happened to fall in so conveniently with his 
own wishes, he painted in very lively colors. 

Deny it altogether, the Major could not; at the same 
time, he could not altogether acknowledge it. But Edward 
only insisted on it the more. He had pictured the whole 
thing to himself not as possible, but as already concluded ; 
all parties had only to resolve on what they all wished; 
there would be no difficulty in obtaining a separation ; the 


Elective Affinities 

marriages should follow as soon after as possible, and 
Edward could travel with Ottilie. 

Of all the pleasant things which imagination pictures to 
us, perhaps there is none more charming than when lovers 
and young married people look forward to enjoying their 
new relation to each other in a fresh, new world, and test 
the endurance of the bond between them in so many 
changing circumstances. The Major and Charlotte were 
in the meantime to have unrestricted powers to settle all 
questions of money, property, and other such important 
worldly matters ; and to do whatever was right and proper 
for the satisfaction of all parties. What Edward dwelt 
the most upon, however, what he seemed to promise him- 
self the most advantage from was this : as the child would 
have to remain with the mother, the Major would charge 
himself with the education of it ; he would train the boy 
according to his own views, and develop what capacities 
there might be in him. It was not for nothing that he 
had received in his baptism the name of Otto, which be- 
longed to them both. 

Edward had so completely arranged everything for 
himself that he could not wait another day to carry it into 
execution. On their way to the castle they arrived at a 
small town, where Edward had a house, and where he was 
to stay to await the return of the Major. He could not, 
however, prevail upon himself to alight there at once, and 
accompanied his friend through the place. They were 
both on horseback, and falling into some interesting con- 
versation, rode on further together. 


Elective Affinities 

On a sudden they saw, in the distance, the new house 
on the height, with its red tiles shining in the sun. An 
irresistible longing came over Edward ; he would have it 
all settled that very evening; he would remain concealed 
in a village close by. The Major was to urge the business 
on Charlotte with all his power; he would take her pru- 
dence by surprise; and oblige her by the unexpectedness 
of his proposal to make a free acknowledgment of her 
feelings. Edward had transferred his own wishes to her ; 
he felt certain that he was only meeting her half-way, and 
that her inclinations were as decided as his own; and he 
looked for an immediate consent from her, because he him- 
self could think of nothing else. 

Joyfully he saw the prosperous issue before his eyes; 
and that it might be communicated to him as swiftly as 
possible, a few cannon shots were to be fired off, and if 
it was dark, a rocket or two sent up. 

The Major rode to the castle. He did not find Charlotte 
there ; he learned that for the present she was staying at 
the new house ; at that particular time, however, she was 
paying a visit in the neighborhood, and she probably 
would not have returned till late that evening. He walked 
back to the hotel, to which he had previously sent his 

Edward, in the meantime, unable to sit still from rest- 
lessness and impatience, stole away out of his concealment 
along solitary paths only known to foresters and fisher- 
men, into his park ; and he found himself toward evening 
in the copse close to the lake, the broad mirror of which 


Elective Affinities 

o b&l- -A U_y>y 

he now for the first time saw spread out in its perfectness 
before him. 

Ottilie had gone out that afternoon for a walk along the 
shore. She had the child with her, and read as she usually 
did while she went along. She had gone as far as the 
oak tree by the ferry. The boy had fallen asleep ; she sat 
down; laid it on the ground at her side, and continued 
reading. The book was one of those which attract per- 
sons of delicate feeling, and afterward will not let them 
go again. She forgot the time and the hours ; she never 
thought what a long way round it was by land to the new 
house ; but she sat lost in her book and in herself, so beau- 
tiful to look at that the trees and the bushes round her 
ought to have been alive 4 and to have had eyes given them 
to gaze upon her and admire her. The sun was sinking ; 
a ruddy streak of light fell upon her from behind, tinging 
with gold her cheek and shoulder. Edward, who had 
made his way to the lake without being seen, rinding his 
park desolate, and no trace of human creature to be seen 
anywhere, went on and on. At last he broke through the 
copse behind the oak tree, and saw her. At the same mo- 
ment she saw him. He flew to her, and threw himself at 
her feet. After a long, silent pause, in which they both 
endeavored to collect themselves, he explained in a few 
words why and how he had come there. He had sent the 
Major to Charlotte; and perhaps at that moment their 
common destiny was being decided. Never had he doubted 
her affection, and she assuredly had never doubted his. 
He begged for her consent; she hesitated; he implored 


Elective Affinities 

her. He offered to resume his old privilege, and throw 
his arms around her, and embrace her ; she pointed down 
to the child. 

Edward looked at it^ and was amazed. "Great God !" 
he cried ; "if I had cause to doubt my wife and my friend, 
this face would witness fearfully against them. Is not 
this the very image of the Major? I never saw such a 

"Indeed!" replied Ottilie; "all the world says it is like 

"Is it possible?" Edward answered; and at this moment 
the child opened its eyes two large, black, piercing eyes, 
deep and full of love; already the little face was full of 
intelligence. He seemed as if he knew both the figures 
which he saw standing before him. Edward threw him- 
self down beside the child, and then knelt a second time 
before Ottilie. "It is you/' he cried ; "the eyes are yours ! 
ah, but let me look into yours ; let me throw a veil over 
that ill-starred hour which gave its being to this little 
creature. Shall I shock your pure spirit with the fearful 
thought that man and wife who are estranged from each 
other can yet press each other to their heart, and profane 
the bonds by which the law unites them by other eager 
wishes ? Oh yes ! As I have said so much, as my connec- 
tion with Charlotte must now be severed, as you will be 
mine, why should I not speak out the words to you ? This 
child is the offspring of a double adultery. It should have 
been a tie between my wife and myself ; but it severs her 
from me, and me from her. Let it witness, then, against 


Elective Affinities 

me. Let these fair eyes say to yours that in the arms of 
another I belonged to you. You must feel, Ottilie, oh! 
you must feel that my fault, my crime, I can only expiate 
in your arms." 

"Hark!" he called out as he sprang up and listened. 
He thought that he had heard a shot, and that it was the 
sign which the Major was to give. It was the gun of a 
forester on the adjoining hill. Nothing followed. Edward 
grew impatient. 

Ottilie now first observed that the sun was down be- 
hind the mountains ; its last rays were shining on the win- 
dows of the house above. "Leave me, Edward," she 
cried; "go. Long as we have been parted, much as we 
have borne, yet remember what we both owe to Charlotte. 
She must decide our fate; do not let us anticipate her 
judgment. I am yours if she will permit it to be so. If 
she will not, I must renounce you. As you think it is now 
so near an issue, let us wait. Go back to the village, 
where the Major supposes you to be. Is it likely that a 
rude cannon-shot will inform you of the results of such 
an interview? Perhaps at this moment he is seeking for 
you. He will not have found Charlotte at home ; of that 
I am certain. He may have gone to meet her; for they 
knew at the castle where she was. How many things may 
have happened ! Leave me ! she must be at home by this 
time ; she is expecting me with the baby above." 

Ottilie spoke hurriedly ; she called together all the pos- 
sibilities. It was too delightful to be with Edward; but 
she felt that he must now leave her. "I beseech, I implore 


Elective Affinities 

you, my beloved," she cried out; "go back and wait for 
the Major." 

"I obey your commands," cried Edward. He gazed at 
her for a moment with rapturous love, and then caught 
her close in his arms. She wound her own about him, 
and pressed him tenderly to her breast. Hope streamed 
away, like a star shooting in the sky, above their 
heads. They thought then, they believed, that they 
did indeed belong to one another. For the first tkne 
they exchanged free, genuine kisses, and separated with 
pain and effort. 

The sun had gone down. It was twilight, and a damp 
mist was rising about the lake. Ottilie stood confused 
and agitated. She looked across to the house on the hill, 
and she thought she saw Charlotte's white dress on the 
balcony. It was a long way round by the end of the lake ; 
and she knew how impatiently Charlotte would be wait- 
ing for the child. She saw the plane-trees just opposite 
her, and only a narrow interval of water divided her from 
the path which led straight up to the house. Her nervous- 
ness about venturing on the water with the child vanished 
in her present embarrassment. She hastened to the boat ; 
she did not feel that her heart was beating; that her feet 
were tottering; that her senses were threatening to fail 

She sprang in, seized the oar, and pushed off. She had 
to use force; she pushed again. The boat shot off, and 
glided, swaying and rocking into the open water. With 
the child in her left arm, the book in her left hand, and 

Elective Affinities 

the oar in her right, she lost her footing, and fell over the 
seat ; the oar slipped from her on one side, and as she tried 
to recover herself the child and the book slipped on the 
other, all into the water. She caught the floating dress, 
but lying entangled as she was herself, she was unable to 
rise. Her right hand was free, but she could not reach 
round to help herself up with it; at last she succeeded. 
She drew the child out of the water; but its eyes were 
closed, and it had ceased to breathe. 

In a moment she recovered all her self-possession ; but 
so much the greater was her agony ; the boat was driving 
fast into the middle of the lake; the oar was swimming 
far away from her. She saw no one on the shore; and, 
indeed, if she had, it would have been of no service to her. 
Cut off from all assistance, she was floating on the faith- 
less, unstable element. 

She sought for help from herself ; she had often heard 
of the recovery of the drowned ; she had herself witnessed 
an instance of it on the evening of her birthday ; she took 
off the child's clothes, and dried it with her muslin dress ; 
she threw open her bosom, laying it bare for the first time 
to the free heaven. For the first time she pressed a living 
being to her pure, naked breast. Alas! and it was not a 
living being. The cold limbs of the ill-starred little crea- 
ture chilled her to the heart. Streams of tears gushed 
from her eyes, and lent a show of life and warmth to the 
outside of the torpid limbs. She persevered with her 
efforts ; she wrapped it in her shawl, she drew it close to 
herself, stroked it, breathed upon it, and with tears and 


Elective Affinities 

kisses labored to supply the help which, cut off as she was, 
she was unable to find. 

It was all in vain ; the child lay motionless in her arms ; 
motionless the boat floated on the glassy water. But even 
here her beautiful spirit did not leave her forsaken. She 
turned to the Power above. She sank down upon her 
knees in the boat, and with both arms raised the unmoving 
child above her innocent breast, like marble in its white- 
ness; alas, too like marble, cold; with moist eyes she 
looked up and cried for help, where a tender heart hopes 
to find it in its fulness when all other help has failed. 

The stars were beginning one by one to glimmer down 
upon her ; she turned to them and not in vain ; a soft air 
stole over the surface, and wafted the boat under the 


Elective Affinities 


SHE hurried to the new house, and called the surgeon 
and gave the child into his hands. It was carried at once 
to Charlotte's sleeping room. Cool and collected from a 
wide experience, he submitted the tender body to the usual 
process. Ottilie stood by him through it all. She prepared 
everything, she fetched everything, but as if she were 
moving in another world; for the height of misfortune, 
like the height of happiness, alters the aspect of every ob- 
ject. And it was only when after every resource had been 
exhausted, the good man shook his head, and to her ques- 
tions, whether there was hope, first was silent, and then 
answered with a gentle No! that she left the apartment, 
and had scarcely entered the sitting-room, when she fell 
fainting, with her face upon the carpet, unable to reach 
the sofa. 

At that moment Charlotte was heard driving up. The 
surgeon implored the servants to keep back, and allow him 
to go to meet her and prepare her. But he was too late ; 
while he was speaking she had entered the drawing-room. 
She found Ottilie on the ground, and one of the girls of 
the house came running and screaming to her open- 
mouthed. The surgeon entered at the same moment, and 
she was informed of everything. She could not at once, 
however, give up all hope. She was flying upstairs to the 


Elective Affinities 

child, but the physician besought her to remain where she 
was. He went himself, to deceive her with a show of 
fresh exertions, and she sat down upon the sofa. Ottilie 
was still lying on the ground ; Charlotte raised her, and 
supported her against herself ; and her beautiful head sank 
down upon her knee. The kind medical man went back- 
ward and forward; he appeared to be busy about the 
child; his real care was for the ladies; and so came on 
midnight, and the stillness grew more and more deathly. 
Charlotte did not try to conceal from herself any longer 
that her child would never return to life again. She de- 
sired to see it now. It had been wrapped up in warm 
woolen coverings. And it was brought down as it was, 
lying in its cot, which was placed at her side on the sofa. 
The little face was uncovered ; and there it lay in its calm, 
sweet beauty. 

The report of the accident soon spread through the 
village ; every one was roused, and the story reached the 
hotel. The Major hurried up the well-known road; he 
went round and round the house ; at last he met a servant 
who was going to one of the outbuildings to fetch some- 
thing. He learned from him in what state things were, 
and desired him to tell the surgeon that he was there. The 
latter came out, not a little surprised at the appearance of 
his old patron. He told him exactly what had happened, 
and undertook to prepare Charlotte to see him. He then 
went in, began some conversation to distract her atten- 
tion, and led her imagination from one object to another, 
till at last he brought it to rest upon her friend, and the 


Elective Affinities 

depth of feeling and of sympathy which would surely be 
called out in him. From the imaginative she was brought 
at once to the real. Enough ! she was informed that he 
was at the door, that he knew everything, and desired to 
be admitted. 

The Major entered. Charlotte received him with a 
miserable smile. He stood before her; she lifted off the 
green silk covering under which the body was lying ; and 
by the dim light of a taper he saw before him, not without 
a secret shudder, the stiffened image of himself. Charlotte 
pointed to a chair, and there they sat opposite to one 
another, without speaking, through the night. Ottilie was 
still lying motionless on Charlotte's knee; she breathed 
softly, and slept or seemed to sleep. 

The morning dawned, the lights went out; the two 
friends appeared to awake out of a heavy dream. Char- 
lotte looked toward the Major, and said quietly: "Tell 
me through what circumstances you have been brought 
hither, to take part in this mourning scene." 

"The present is not a time," the Major answered in the 
same low tone as that in which Charlotte had spoken, for 
fear lest she might disturb Ottilie ; "this is not a time, and 
this is not a place for reserve. The condition in which 
I find you is so fearful that even the earnest matter on 
which I am here loses its importance by the side of it." 
He then informed her, quite calmly and simply, of the 
object of his mission, in so far as he was the ambassador 
of Edward; of the object of his coming, in so far as his 
ewn free will and his own interests were concerned in it 



r Elective Affinities 

He laid both before her delicately, but uprightly; Char- 
lotte listened quietly, and showed neither surprise nor 

As soon as the Major had finished, she replied, in a 
voice so light that to catch her words he was obliged to 
draw his chair closer to her: "In such a case as this I 
have never before found myself; but in similar cases I 
have always said to myself, how will it be to-morrow ? I 
feel very clearly that the fate oi many persons is now in 
my hands, and what I have to do is soon said without 
scruple or hesitation. I consent to the separation ; I ought 
to have made up my mind to it before ; by my unwilling- 
ness and reluctance I have destroyed my child. There 
are certain things on which destiny obstinately insists. 
In vain may reason, may virtue, may duty, may all holy 
feelings place themselves in its way. Something shall be 
done which to it seems good, and which to us seems not 
good ; and it forces its own way through at last, let us con- 
duct ourselves as we will. 

"And, indeed, what am I saying? It is but my own 
desire, my own purpose, against which I acted so un- 
thinkingly, which destiny is again bringing in my way? 
Did I not long ago, in my thoughts, design Edward and 
Ottilie for one another ? Did I not myself labor to bring 
them together? And you, my friend, you yourself were 
an accomplice in my plot. Why, why, could I not dis- 
tinguish mere man's obstinacy from real love? Why did 
I accept his hand, when I could have made him happy as 
a friend, and when another could have made him happy as 

(A) 15 VOL. 2 

Elective Affinities 

a wife? And now, look here on this unhappy slumberer. 
I tremble for the moment when she will recover out of 
this half death sleep into consciousness. How can she 
endure to live? How shall she ever console herself, if 
she may not hope to make good that to Edward, of which, 
as the instrument of the most wonderful destiny, she has 
deprived him? And she can make it all good again by 
the passion, by the devotion with which she loves him. 
If love be able to bear all things, it is able to do yet more ; 
it can restore all things: of myself at such a moment I 
may not think. 

"Do you go quietly away, my dear Major; say to' 
Edward that I consent to the separation; that I leave it 
to him, to you, and to Mittler, to settle whatever is to be 
done. I have no anxiety for my own future condition; 
it may be what it will ; it is nothing to me. I will sub- 
scribe whatever paper is submitted to me, only he must 
not require me to join actively. I can not have to think 
about it, or give advice." 

The Major rose to go. She stretched out her hand to 
him across Ottilie. He pressed it to his lips, and whis- 
pered gently: "And for myself, may I hope anything?" 

"Do not ask me now ?" replied Charlotte. "I will tell 
you another time. We have not deserved to be miserable ; 
but neither can we say that we have deserved to be happy 

The Major left her, and went, feeling for Charlotte to 
the bottom of his heart, but not being able to be sorry for 
the fate of the poor child. Such an offering seemed nee- 


Elective Affinities 

essary to him for their general happiness. He pictured 
Ottilie to himself with a child of her own in her arms as 
the most perfect compensation for the one of which she 
had deprived Edward. He pictured himself with his own 
son on his knee, who should have better right to resemble 
him than the one which was departed. 

With such flattering hopes and fancies passing through 
his mind, he returned to the hotel, and on his way back he 
met Edward, who had been waiting for him the whole 
night through in the open air, since neither rocket nor 
report of cannon would bring him news of the successful 
issue of his undertaking. He had already heard of the 
misfortune; and he too, instead of being sorry for the 
poor creature, regarded what had befallen it, without 
being exactly ready to confess it to himself, as a conven- 
ient accident, through which the only impediment in the 
way of his happiness was at once removed. 

The Major at once informed him of his wife's resolu- 
tion, and he therefore easily allowed himself to be pre- 
vailed upon to return again with him to the village, and 
from thence to go for a while to the little town, where 
they would consider what was next to be done, and make 
their arrangements. 

After the Major had left her, Charlotte sat on, buried 
in her own reflections ; but it was only for a few minutes. 
Ottilie suddenly raised herself from her lap, and looked 
full with her large eyes in her friend's face. Then she 
got up from off the ground, and stood upright before her. 

"This is the second time," began the noble girl, with an 


Elective Affinities 

irresistible solemnity of manner, "this is the second time 
that the same thing has happened to me. You once said 
to me that similar things often befall people more than 
once in their lives in a similar way, and if they do, it is 
always at important moments. I now find that what you 
said is true, and I have to make a confession to you. 
Shortly after my mother's death, when I was a very little 
child, I was sitting one day on a footstool close to you. 
You were on the sofa, as you are at this moment, and my 
head rested on your knees. I was not asleep, I was not 
awake : I was in a trance. I knew everything which was 
passing about me. I heard every word which was said 
with the greatest distinctness, and yet I could not stir, 
I could not speak; and if I had wished it, I could not 
have given a hint that I was conscious. On that occasion 
you were speaking about me to one of your friends ; you 
were commiserating my fate, left as I was a poor orphan 
in the world. You described my dependent position, and 
how unfortunate a future was before me, unless some 
very happy star watched over me. I understood well 
what you said. I saw, perhaps too clearly, what you ap- 
peared to hope of me, and what you thought I ought to 
do. I made rules to myself, according to such limited in- 
sight as I had, and by these I have long lived ; by these, 
at the time when you so kindly took charge of me, and 
had me with you in your house, I regulated whatever I 
did, and whatever I left undone. 

"But I have wandered out of my course ; I have broken 
my rules; I have lost the very power of feeling them. 


Elective Affinities 

And now, after a dreadful occurrence, you have again 
made clear to me my situation, which is more pitiable 
than the first. While lying in a half torpor on your lap, 
I have again, as if out of another world, heard every 
syllable which you uttered. I know from you how all is 
with me. I shudder at the thought of myself ; but again, 
as I did then, in my half sleep of death, I have marked 
out my new path for myself. 

"I am determined, as I was before, and what I have 
determined I must tell you at once. I will never be Ed- 
ward's wife. In a terrible manner God has opened my 
eyes to see the sin in which I was entangled. I will atone 
for it, and let no one think to move me from my purpose. 
It is by this, my dearest, kindest friend, that you must 
govern your own conduct. Send for the Major to come 
back to you. Write to him that no steps must be taken. 
It made me miserable that I could not stir or speak when 
he went I tried to rise I tried to cry out. Oh, why did 
you let him leave you with such unlawful hopes !" 

Charlotte saw Ottilie's condition, and she felt for it; 
but she hoped that by time and persuasion she might be 
able to prevail upon her. On her uttering a few words, 
however, which pointed to a future to a time when her 
sufferings would be alleviated, and when there might be 
better room for hope, "No!" Ottilie cried, with vehe- 
mence, "do not endeavor to move me ; do not seek to de- 
ceive me. At the moment at which I learn that you have 
consented to the separation, in that same lake I will ex- 
piate my errors and my crimes.'* 


Elective Affinities 


FRIENDS and relations, and all persons living in the 
same house together, are apt, when life is going 
smoothly and peacefully with them, to make what they 
are doing, or what they are going to do, even more than 
is right or necessary, a subject of constant conversation. 
They talk to each other of their plans and their occu- 
pations, and, without exactly taking one another's ad- 
vice, consider and discuss together the entire progress 
of their lives. But this is far from being the case in 
serious moments; just when it would seem men most 
require the assistance and support of others, they all 
draw singly within themselves every one to act for him- 
self, every one to work in his own fashion; they con- 
ceal from one another the particular means which they 
employ, and only the result, the object, the thing which 
they realize, is again made common property. 

After so many strange and unfortunate incidents, a 
sort of silent seriousness had passed over the two ladies, 
which showed itself in a sweet mutual effort to spare 
each other's feelings. The child had been buried 
privately in the chapej. It rested there as the first offer- 
ing to a destiny full of ominous foreshadowings. 


Elective Affinities 

Charlotte, as soon as ever she could, turned back to 
life and occupation, and here she first found Ottilie 
standing in need of her assistance. She occupied her- 
self almost entirely with her, without letting it be ob- 
served. She knew how deeply the noble girl loved 
Edward. She had discovered by degrees the scene 
which had preceded the accident, and had gathered every 
circumstance of it, partly from Ottilie herself, partly 
from the letters of the Major. 

Ottilie, on her side, made Charlotte's immediate life 
much more easy for her. She was open, and even talk- 
ative, but she never spoke of the present, or of what 
had lately passed. She had been a close and thoughtful 
observer. She knew much, and now it all came to the 
surface. She entertained, she amused Charlotte, and 
the latter still nourished a hope in secret to see her mar- 
ried to Edward after all. 

But something very different was passing in Ottilie. 
She had disclosed the secret of the course of her life 
to her friend, and she showed no more of her previous 
restraint and submissiveness. By her repentance and 
her resolution she felt herself freed from the burden 
of her fault and her misfortune. She had no more vio- 
lence to do to herself. In the bottom of her heart she 
had forgiven herself solely under condition of the full- 
est renunciation, and it was a condition which would 
remain binding for all time to come. 

So passed away some time, and Charlotte now felt 
how deeply house and park, and lake and rocks and 


Elective Affinities 

trees served to keep alive in them all their most painful 
reminiscences. They wanted change of scene, both of 
them, it was plain enough ; but how it was to be effected 
was not so easy to decide. 

Were the two ladies to remain together? Edward's 
previously expressed will appeared to enjoin it his 
declarations and his threats appeared to make it neces- 
sary; only it could not be now mistaken that Charlotte 
and OttiliCj with all their good-will, with all their sense, 
with all their efforts to conceal it, could not avoid find- 
ing themselves in a painful situation toward one another. 
In their conversation there was a constant endeavor to 
avoid doubtful subjects. They were often obliged only 
half to understand some allusion; more often, expres- 
sions were misinterpreted, if not by their understandings, 
at any rate by their feelings. They were afraid to 
give pain to one another, and this very fear itself pro- 
duced the evil which they were seeking to avoid. 

If they were to try change of scene, and at the same 
time (at any rate for a while) to part, the old question 
came up again, where was Ottilie to go? There was 
the grand, rich family, who still wanted a desirable 
companion for their daughter, their attempts to find a 
person whom they could trust having hitherto proved 
ineffectual. The last time the Baroness had been at 
the castle, she had urged Charlotte to send Ottilie there, 
and she had been lately pressing it again and again in 
her letters. Charlotte now a second time proposed it; 
but Ottilie expressly declined going anywhere, where 


Elective Affinities 

she would be thrown into what is called the great 

"Do not think me foolish or self-willed, my dear aunt," 
she said; "I had better tell you what I feel, for fear you 
should judge hardly of me; although in any other case it 
would be my duty to be silent. A person who has fallen 
into uncommon misfortunes, however guiltless he may be, 
carries a frightful mark upon him. His presence, in every 
one who sees him and is aware of his history, excites a 
kind of horror. People see in him the terrible fate which 
has been laid upon him, and he is the object of a diseased 
and nervous curiosity. It is so with a house, it is so with 
a town, where any terrible action has been done; people 
enter them with awe ; the light of day shines less brightly 
there, and the stars seem to lose their lustre. 

"Perhaps we ought to excuse it, but how extreme is 
the indiscretion with which people behave toward such 
unfortunates, with their foolish importunities and awk- 
ward kindness! You must forgive me for speaking in 
this way, but that poor girl whom Luciana tempted out 
of her retirement, and with such mistaken good nature 
tried to force into society and amusement, has haunted 
me and made me miserable. The poor creature, when 
she was so frightened and tried to escape, and then 
sank and swooned away, and I caught her in my arms, 
and the party came all crowding round in terror and 
curiosity ! little did I think, then, that the same fate was 
in store for me. But my feeling for her is as deep and 
warm and fresh as ever it was; and now I may direct 


Elective Affinities 

my compassion upon myself, and secure myself from be- 
ing the object of any similar exposure." 

"But, my dear child," answered Charlotte, "you will 
never be able to withdraw yourself where no one can 
see you; we have no cloisters now: otherwise, there, 
with your present feelings, would be your resource." 

"Solitude would not give me the resource for which I 
wish, my dear aunt," answered Ottilie. "The one true 
and valuable resource is to be looked for where we can 
be active and useful; all the self-denials and all the 
penances on earth will fail to deliver us from an evil- 
omened destiny, if it be determined to persecute us. 
Let me sit still in idleness and serve as a spectacle for 
the world, and it will overpower me and crush me. 
But find me some peaceful employment, where I can 
go steadily and unweariedly on doing my duty, and I 
shall be able to bear the eyes of men, when I need not 
shrink under the eyes of God." 

"Unless I am much mistaken," replied Charlotte, 
"your inclination is to return to the school." 

"Yes," Ottilie answered; "I do not deny it. I think 
it a happy destination to train up others in the beaten 
way, after having been trained in the strangest myself. 
And do we not see the same great fact in history? some 
moral calamity drives men out into the wilderness; but 
they are not allowed to remain as they had hoped in their 
concealment there. They are summoned back into the 
world to lead the wanderers into the right way ; and who 
are fitter for such a service than those who have been in- 


Elective Affinities 

itiated into the labyrinths of life ? They are commanded 
to be the support of the unfortunate ; and who can better 
fulfil that command than those who have no more mis- 
fortunes to fear upon earth ?" 

"You are selecting an uncommon profession for your- 
self," replied Charlotte. "I shall not oppose you, how- 
ever. Let it be as you wish ; only I hope it will be but 
for a short time." 

"Most warmly I thank you," said Ottilie, "for giving 
me leave at least to try to make the experiment. If I 
am not flattering myself too highly, I am sure I shall 
succeed : wherever I am I shall remember the many 
trials which I went through myself, and how small, 
how infinitely small they were compared to those which 
I afterward had to undergo. It will be my happiness 
to watch the embarrassments of the little creatures as 
they grow; to cheer them in their childish sorrows, and 
guide them back with a light hand out of their little 
aberrations. The fortunate is not the person to be of 
help to the fortunate; it is in the nature of man to 
require ever more and more of himself and others the 
more he has received. The unfortunate who has himself 
recovered knows best how to nourish, in himself and 
them, the feeling that every moderate good ought to be 
enjoyed with rapture." 

"I have but one objection to make to what you pro- 
pose/' said Charlotte, after some thought, "although that 
one seems to me of great importance. I am not thinking 
of you, but of another person : you are aware of the feel- 


Elective Affinities 

ings toward you of that good, right-minded, excellent 
Assistant. In the way in which you desire to proceed, 
you will become every day more valuable and more in- 
dispensable to him. Already he himself believes that he 
can never live happily without you, and hereafter, when 
he has become accustomed to have you to work with 
him, he will be unable to carry on his business if he 
loses you; you will have assisted him at the beginning 
only to injure him in the end." 

"Destiny has not dealt with me with too gentle a 
hand," replied Ottilie; "and whoever loves me has per- 
haps not much better to expect. Our friend is so good 
and so sensible that I hope he will be able to reconcile 
himself to remaining in a simple relation with me; he 
will learn to see in me a consecrated person, lying under 
the shadow of an awful calamity, and only able to sup- 
port herself and bear up against it by devoting herself 
to that Holy Being who is invisibly around us, and alone 
is able to shield us from the dark powers which threaten 
to overwhelm us." 

All this, which the dear girl poured out so warmly, 
Charlotte privately reflected over; on many different oc- 
casions, although only in the gentlest manner, she had 
hinted at the possibility of Ottilie's being brought again 
in contact with Edward; but the slightest mention of it, 
the faintest hope, the least suspicion, seemed to wound 
Ottilie to the quick. One day when she could not evade 
it, she expressed herself to Charlotte clearly and per- 
emptorily on the subject. 


Elective Affinities 

"If your resolution to renounce Edward," returned 
Charlotte, "is so firm and unalterable, then you had bet- 
ter avoid the danger of seeing him again. At a distance 
from the object of our love, the warmer our affection, the 
stronger is the control which we fancy that we can exer- 
cise on ourselves ; because the whole force of the passion, 
diverted from its outward objects, turns inward on our- 
selves. But how soon, how swiftly is our mistake made 
clear to us, when the thing which we thought that we 
could renounce, stands again before our eyes as indis- 
pensable to us! You must now do what you consider 
best suited to your circumstances. Look well into your- 
self; change, if you prefer it, the resolution which you 
have just expressed. But do it of yourself, with a free 
consenting heart. Do not allow yourself to be drawn 
in by an accident; do not let yourself be surprised into 
your former position. It will place you at issue with 
yourself and will be intolerable to you. As I said, before 
you take this step, before you remove from me, and 
enter upon a new life, which will lead you no one knows 
in what direction, consider once more whether really, 
indeed, you can renounce Edward for the whole time to 
come. If you have faithfully made up your mind that 
you will do this, then will you enter into an engagement 
with me that you will never admit him into your pres- 
ence; and if he seeks you out and forces himself upon 
you, that you will not exchange words with him ?" 

Ottilie did not hesitate a moment; she gave Charlotte 
the promise, which she had already made to herself. 


Elective Affinities 

Now, however, Charlotte began to be haunted with 
Edward's threat that he would only consent to renounce 
Ottilie as long as she was not parted from Charlotte. 
Since that time, indeed, circumstances were so altered, 
so many things had happened, that an engagement which 
was wrung from him in a moment of excitement might 
well be supposed to have been canceled. She was un- 
willing, however, in the remotest sense to venture any- 
thing or to undertake anything which might displease 
him, and Mittler was therefore to find Edward, and 
inquire what, as things now were, he wished to be done. 

Since the death of the child, Mittler had often been 
at the castle to see Charlotte, although only for a few 
moments at a time. The unhappy accident which had 
made her reconciliation with her husband in the highest 
degree improbable had produced a most painful effect 
upon him. But ever, as his nature was, hoping and striv- 
ing, he rejoiced secretly at the resolution of Ottilie. He 
trusted to the softening influence of passing time; he 
hoped that it might still be possible to keep the husband 
and the wife from separating; and he tried to regard 
these convulsions of passion only as trials of wedded 
love and fidelity. 

Charlotte, at the very first, had informed the Major 
by letter of Ottilie's declaration. She had entreated him 
most earnestly to prevail on Edward to take no further 
steps for the present. They should keep quiet and wait, 
and see whether the poor girl's spirits would recover. 
She had let him know from time to time whatever was 


Elective Affinities 

necessary of what had more lately fallen from her. And 
now Mittler had to undertake the really difficult com- 
mission of preparing Edward for an alteration in her 
situation. Mittler, however, well knowing that men can 
be brought more easily to submit to what is already done 
than to give their consent to what is yet to be done, per- 
suaded Charlotte that it would be better to send Ottilie 
off at once to the school. 

Consequently as soon as Mittler was gone, prepara- 
tions were at once made for the journey. Ottilie put her 
things together; and Charlotte observed that neither the 
beautiful box, nor anything out of it, was to go with 
her. Ottilie had said nothing to her on the subject; and 
she took no notice, but let her alone. The day of the 
departure came; Charlotte's carriage was to take Ottilie 
the first day as far as a place where they were well 
known, where she was to pass the night, and on the sec- 
ond she would go on in it to the school. It was settled 
that Nanny was to accompany her, and remain as her 

This capricious little creature had found her way back 
to her mistress after the death of the child, and now hung 
about her as warmly and passionately as ever; indeed 
she seemed, with her loquacity and attentiveness, as if 
she wished to make good her past neglect, and hence- 
forth devote herself entirely to Ottilie's service. She was 
quite beside herself now for joy at the thought of trav- 
eling with her, and of seeing strange places, when she 
had hitherto never been away from the scene of her birth ; 


Elective Affinities 

and she ran from the castle to the village to carry the 
news of her good fortune to her parents and her relations, 
and to take leave. Unluckily for herself, she went among 
other places into a room where a person was who had 
the measles, and caught the infection, which came out 
upon her at once. The journey could not be postponed. 
Ottilie herself was urgent to go. She had traveled once 
before the same road. She knew the people of the hotel 
where she was to sleep. The coachman from the castle 
was going with her. There could be nothing to fear. 

Charlotte made no opposition. She, too, in thought, 
was making haste to be clear of present embarrassments. 
The rooms which Ottilie had occupied at the castle she 
would have prepared for Edward as soon as possible, and 
restored to the old state in which they had been before 
the arrival of the Captain. The hope of bringing back 
old happy days burns up again and again in us, as if it 
never could be extinguished. And Charlotte was quite 
right; there was nothing else for her except to hope as 
she did. 


Elective Affinities 


WHEN Mittler was come to talk the matter over with 
Edward, he found him sitting by himself, with his head 
supported on his right hand, and his arm resting on the 
table. He appeared in great suffering. 

"Is your headache troubling you again?" asked 

"It is troubling me," answered he; "and yet I can not 
wish it were not so, for it reminds me of Ottilie. She 
too, I say to myself, is also suffering in the same way at 
this same moment, and suffering more perhaps than I; 
and why can not I bear it as well as she? These pains 
are good for me. I might almost say that they were wel- 
come; for they serve to bring out before me with the 
greater vividness her patience and all her other graces. 
It is only when we suffer ourselves that we feel really the 
true nature of all the high qualities which are required 
to bear suffering." 

Mittler, finding his friend so far resigned, did not hesi- 
tate to communicate the message with which he had been 
sent. He brought it out piecemeal, however; in order 
of time, as the idea had itself arisen between the ladies, 
and had gradually ripened into a purpose. Edward 


Elective Affinities 

scarcely made an objection. From the little which he 
said, it appeared as if he was willing to leave everything 
to them ; the pain which he was suffering at the moment 
making him indifferent to all besides. 

Scarcely, however, was he again alone than he got up 
and walked rapidly up and down the room ; he forgot his 
pain, his attention now turning to what was external to 
himself. Mittler's story had stirred the embers of his 
love, and awakened his imagination in all its vividness. 
He saw Ottilie by herself, or as good as by herself, trav- 
eling on a road which was well known to him in a hotel 
with every room of which he was familiar. He thought, 
he considered, or rather he neither thought nor consid- 
ered; he only wished he only desired. He would see 
her ; he would speak to her. Why, or for what good end 
that was to come of it, he did not care to ask himself; 
but he made up his mind at once. He must do it. 

He summoned his valet into his council, and through 
him he made himself acquainted with the day and hour 
when Ottilie was to set out. The morning broke. With- 
out taking any person with him, Edward mounted his 
horse, and rode off to the place where she was to pass 
the night. He was there too soon. The hostess was 
overjoyed at the sight of him ; she was under heavy obli- 
gations to him for a service which he had been able to 
do for her. Her son had been in the army, where he 
had conducted himself with remarkable gallantry. He 
had performed one particular action of which no one had 
been a witness but Edward; and the latter had spoken 


Elective Affinities 

of it to the commander-in-chief in terms of such high 
praise that, notwithstanding the opposition of various ill- 
wishers, he had obtained a decoration for him. The 
mother, therefore, could never do enough for Edward. 
She got ready her best room for him, which indeed was 
her own wardrobe and storeroom, with all possible 
speed. He informed her, however, that a young lady 
was coming to pass the night there, and he ordered an 
apartment for her at the back, at the end of the gallery. 
It sounded a mysterious sort of affair ; but the hostess was 
ready to do anything to please her patron, who appeared 
so interested and so busy about it. And he, what were 
his sensations as he watched through the long, weary 
hours till evening? He examined the room round and 
round in which he was to see her ; with all its strangeness 
and homeliness it seemed to him to be an abode for angels. 
He thought over and over what he had better do ; whether 
he should take her by surprise, or whether he should pre- 
pare her for meeting him. At last the second course 
seemed the preferable one. He sat down and wrote a 
letter, which she was to read : 


"While you read this letter, my best beloved, I am close 
to you. Do not agitate yourself; do not be alarmed; you 
have nothing to fear from me. I will not force myself 
upon you. I will see you or not, as you yourself shall 

"Consider, oh ! consider your condition and mine. How 


Elective Affinities 

must I not thank you that you have taken no decisive step ! 
But the step which you have taken is significant enough. 
Do not persist in it. Here, as it were, at a parting of the 
ways, reflect once again. Can you be mine ? will you be 
mine ? Oh, you will be showing mercy on us all if you 
will ; and on me, infinite mercy. 

"Let me see you again ! happily, joyfully see you once 
more ! Let me make my request to you with my own lips ; 
and do you give me your answer your own beautiful self, 
on my breast, Ottilie ! where you have so often rested, and 
which belongs to you forever !" 

As he was writing, the feeling rushed over him that 
what he was longing for was coming was close would 
be there almost immediately. By that door she would 
come in; she would read that letter; she in her own per- 
son would stand there before him as she used to stand; 
she for whose appearance he had thirsted so long. Would 
she be the same as she was? was her form, were her 
feelings changed ? He still held the pen in his hand ; he 
was going to write as he thought, when the carriage 
rolled into the court. With a few hurried strokes he 
added : "I hear you coming. For a moment, farewell !" 

He folded the letter, and directed it. He had no time 
for sealing. He darted into the room through which there 
was a second outlet into the gallery, when the next mo- 
ment he recollected that he had left his watch and seals 
lying on the table. She must not see these first. He ran 
back and brought them away with him. At the same 


Elective Affinities 

instant he heard the hostess in the antechamber showing 
Ottilie the way to her apartments. He sprang to the 
bedroom door. It was shut. In his haste, as he had 
come back for his watch, he had forgotten to take out the 
key, which had fallen out, and lay the other side. The 
door had closed with a spring, and he could not open it. 
He pushed at it with all his might, but it would not yield. 
Oh, how gladly would he have been a spirit, to escape 
through its cracks ! In vain. He hid his face against the 
panels. Ottilie entered, and the hostess, seeing him, re- 
tired. From Ottilie herself, too, he could not remain con- 
cealed for a moment. He turned toward her; and there 
stood the lovers once more, in such strange fashion, in 
one another's presence. She looked at him calmly and 
earnestly, without advancing or retiring. He made a; 
movement to approach her, and she withdrew a few steps 
toward the table. He stepped back again. "Ottilie !" he 
cried aloud, "Ottilie! let me break this frightful silence! 
Are we shadows, that we stand thus gazing at each other ? 
Only listen to me ; listen to this at least. It is an accident 
that you find me here thus. There is a letter on the table, 
at your side there, which was to have prepared you. 
Read it, I implore you read it and then determine as 
you will!" 

She looked down at the letter; and after thinking a 
few seconds, she took it up, opened it, and read it : she fin- 
ished it without a change of expression; and she laid it 
lightly down; then joining the palms of her hands to- 
gether, turning them upward, and drawing them against 


Elective Affinities 

her breast, she leaned her body a little forward, and re- 
garded Edward with such a look, that, eager as he was, 
he was compelled to renounce everything he wished or 
desired of her. Such an attitude cut him to the heart ; he 
could not bear it. It seemed exactly as if she would fall 
upon her knees before him, if he persisted. He hurried 
in despair out of the room, and leaving her alone, sent the 
hostess in to her. 

He walked up and down the antechamber. Night had 
come on, and there was no sound in the room. At last the 
hostess came out and drew the key out of the lock. The 
good woman was embarrassed and agitated, not knowing 
what it would be proper for her to do. At last, as she 
turned to go, she offered the key to Edward, who refused 
it ; and putting down the candle she went away. 

In misery and wretchedness Edward flung himself 
down on the threshold of the door which divided him 
from Ottilie, moistening it with his tears as he lay. A 
more unhappy night had been seldom passed by two lovers 
in such close neighborhood ! 

Day came at last. The coachman brought round the 
carriage, and the hostess unlocked the door and went in. 
Ottilie was asleep in her clothes ; she went back and beck- 
oned to Edward with a significant smile. They both en- 
tered and stood before her as she lay; but the sight was 
too much for Edward. He could not bear it. She was 
sleeping so quietly that the hostess did not like to disturb 
her, but sat down opposite her, waiting till she woke. At 
last Ottilie opened her beautiful eyes, and raised herself 


Elective Affinities 

on her feet. She declined taking any breakfast, and then 
Edward went in again and stood before her. He en- 
treated her to speak but one word to him; to tell him 
what she desired. He would do it, be it what it would, 
he swore to her ; but she remained silent. He asked her 
once more, passionately and tenderly, whether she would 
be his. With downcast eyes, and with the deepest tender- 
ness of manner she shook her head to a gentle No. He 
asked if she still desired to go to the school. Without 
any show of feeling she declined. Would she then go 
back to Charlotte? She inclined her head in token of 
assent, with a look of comfort and relief. He went to 
the window to give directions to the coachman, and when 
his back was turned she darted like lightning out of the 
room, and was down the stairs and in the carriage in an 
instant. The coachman drove back along the road which 
he had come the day before, and Edward followed at some 
distance on horseback. 


Elective Affinities 


IT was with the utmost surprise that Charlotte saw 
the carriage drive up with Ottilie, and Edward at the 
same moment ride into the courtyard of the castle. 
She ran down to the hall. Ottilie alighted, and ap- 
proached her and Edward. Violently and eagerly she 
caught the hands of the wife and husband, pressed them 
together, and hurried off to her own room. Edward 
threw himself on Charlotte's neck and burst into tears. 
He could not give her any explanation; he besought 
her to have patience with him, and to go at once to see 
Ottilie. Charlotte followed her to her room, and she 
could not enter it without a shudder. It had been all 
cleared out. There was nothing to be seen but the 
empty walls, which stood there looking cheerless, vacant, 
and miserable. Everything had been carried away ex- 
cept the little box, which from an uncertainty what was 
to be done with it, had been left in the middle of the 
room. Ottilie was lying stretched upon the floor, her 
arm and head leaning across the cover. Charlotte bent 
anxiously over her, and asked what had happened; but 
she received no answer. 

Her maid had come with restoratives. Charlotte left 
her with Ottilie, and herself hastened back to Edward. 
She found him in the saloon, but he could tell her noth- 


Elective Affinities 

ing. He threw himself down before her; he bathed her 
hands with tears; he flew to his own room, and she was 
going to follow him thither, when she met his valet. 
From this man she gathered as much as he was able to 
tell. The rest she put together in her own thoughts 
as well as she could, and set herself to do what the exi- 
gencies of the moment required. Ottilie's room was put 
to rights again as quickly as possible ; Edward found his, 
to the last paper, exactly as he had left it. 

The three appeared again to fall into some sort of 
relation with one another. But Ottilie persevered in 
her silence, and Edward could do nothing except entreat 
his wife to exert a patience which seemed wanting to 
himself. Charlotte sent messengers to Mittler and to 
the Major. The first was absent from home and could 
not be found. The latter came. To him Edward poured 
out all his heart, confessing every most trifling circum- 
stance to him, and thus Charlotte learned fully what had 
passed; what it had been which had produced such vio- 
lent excitement, and how so strange an alteration of their 
mutual position had been brought about. 

She spoke with the utmost tenderness to her husband. 
She had nothing to ask of him, except that for the pres- 
ent he would leave the poor girl to herself. Edward 
was not insensible to the worth, the affection, the strong 
sense of his wife; but his passion absorbed him exclu- 
sively. Charlotte tried to cheer him with hopes. She 
promised that she herself would make no difficulties 
about the separation; but it had small effect with him. 

(A) 16 VOL. 2 

Elective Affinities 

He was so much shaken that hope and faith alternately 
forsook him. A species of insanity seemed to have taken 
possession of him. He urged Charlotte to promise to give 
her hand to the Major. To satisfy him and to humor 
him, she did what he required. She engaged to become 
herself the wife of the Major, in the event of Ottilie 
consenting to the marriage with Edward; with this 
express condition, however, that for the present the two 
gentlemen should go abroad together. The Major had 
a foreign appointment from the court, and it was set- 
tled that* Edward should accompany him. They ar- 
ranged it all together, and in doing so found a sort of 
comfort for themselves in the sense that at least some- 
thing was being done. 

In the meantime they had to remark that Ottilie took 
scarcely anything to eat or drink. She still persisted in 
refusing to speak. They at first used to talk to her, but 
it appeared to distress her, and they left it off. We are 
not, universally at least, so weak as to persist in tor- 
turing people for their good. Charlotte thought over 
what could possibly be done. At last she fancied it 
might be well to ask the Assistant of the school to come 
to them. He had much influence with Ottilie, and had 
been writing with much anxiety to inquire the cause of 
her not having arrived at the time he had been expect- 
ing her; but as yet she had not sent him any answer. 

In order not to take Ottilie by surprise, they spoke of 
their intention of sending this invitation in her presence. 
It did not seem to please her; she thought for some 


Elective Affinities 

little time; at last she appeared to have formed some 
resolution. She retired to her own room, and before the 
evening sent the following letter to the assembled party : 


"Why need I express in words, my dear friends, 
what is in itself so plain? I have stepped out of my 
course, and I can not recover it again. A malignant 
spirit which has gained power over me seems to hinder 
me from without, even if within I could again become 
at peace with myself. 

"My purpose was entirely firm to renounce Edward, 
and to separate myself from him forever. I had hoped 
that we might never meet again ; it has turned out other- 
wise. Against his own will he stood before me. Too 
literally, perhaps, I have observed my promise never to 
admit him into conversation with me. My conscience 
and the feelings of the moment kept me silent toward 
him at the time, and now I have nothing more to say. 
I have taken upon myself, under the accidental impulse 
of the moment, a difficult vow, which if it had been 
formed deliberately, might perhaps be painful and dis- 
tressing. Let me now persist in the observance of it so 
long as my heart shall enjoin it to me. Do not call in 
any one to mediate; do not insist upon my speaking; do 
not urge me to eat or to drink more than I absolutely 
must. Bear with me and let me alone, and so help me 
on through the time; I am young, and youth has many 
unexpected means of restoring itself. Endure my pres- 


Elective Affinities 

ence among you; cheer me with your love; make me 
wiser and better with what you say to one another : but 
leave me to my own inward self." 

The two friends had made all preparation for their 
journey, but their departure was still delayed by the 
formalities of the foreign appointment of the Major, a 
delay most welcome to Edward. Ottilie's letter had 
roused all his eagerness again; he had gathered hope 
and comfort from her words, and now felt himself en- 
couraged and justified in remaining and waiting. He 
declared, therefore, that he would not go; it would be 
folly, indeed, he cried, of his own accord, to throw 
away, by over-precipitateness, what was most valuable 
and most necessary to him, when although there was a 
danger of losing it, there was nevertheless a chance that 
it might be preserved. "What is the right name of con- 
duct such as that?" he said. "It is only that we desire 
to show that we are able to will and to choose. I my- 
self, under the influences of the same ridiculous folly, 
have torn myself away, days before there was any neces- 
sity for it, from my friends, merely that I might not 
be forced to go by the definite expiration of my term. 
This time I will stay : what reason is there for my going ; 
is she not already removed far enough from me? I am 
not likely now to catch her hand or press her to my 
heart; I could not even think of it without a shudder. 
She has not separated herself from me; she has raised 
herself far above me." 


Elective Affinities 

And so he remained as he desired, as he was obliged ; 
but he was never easy except when he found himself 
with Ottilie. She, too, had the same feeling with him; 
she could not tear herself away from the same happy 
necessity. On all sides they exerted an indescribable, 
almost magical power of attraction over one another. 
Living, as they were, under one roof, without even so 
much as thinking of each other, although they might be 
occupied with other things, or diverted this way or that 
Way by the other members of the party, they always drew 
together. If they were in the same room, in a short time 
they were sure to be either standing or sitting near each 
other ; they were only easy when as close together as they 
could be, but they were then completely easy. To be near 
was enough; there was no need for them either to look 
or to speak: they did not seek to touch one another, or 
make sign or gesture, but merely to be together. Then, 
there were not two persons, there was but one person in 
unconscious and perfect content, at peace with itself and 
with the world. So it was that if either of them had been 
imprisoned at the further end of the house, the other 
would by degrees, without intending it, have moved 
toward its fellow till it found it; life to them was a rid- 
dle, the solution of which they could only find in union. 

Ottilie was throughout so cheerful and quiet that they 
were able to feel perfectly easy about her ; she was seldom 
absent from the society of her friends : all that she had 
desired was that she might be allowed to eat alone, with 
no one to attend upon her but Nanny. 


Elective Affinities 

What habitually befalls any person repeats itself more 
often than one is apt to suppose, because his own nature 
gives the immediate occasion for it. Character, individ- 
uality, inclination, tendency, locality, circumstance, and 
habits form together a whole, in which every man moves 
as in an atmosphere, and where only he feels himself at 
ease in his proper element. 

And so we find men, of whose changeableness so many 
complaints are made, after many years, to our surprise, 
unchanged, and in all their infinite tendencies, outward 
and inward, unchangeable. 

Thus in the daily life of our friends almost everything 
glided on again in its old smooth track. Ottilie still dis- 
played by many silent attentions her obliging nature, and 
the others like her continued each themselves; and then 
the domestic circle exhibited an image of their former life, 
so like it that they might be pardoned if at times they 
dreamt that it might all be again as it was. 

The autumn days, which were of the same length with 
those old spring days, brought the party back into the 
house out of the air about the same hour. The gay fruits 
and flowers which belonged to the season might have 
made them fancy it was now the autumn of that first 
spring, and the interval dropped out and forgotten; for 
the flowers which now were blowing were the same as 
those which then they had sown, and the fruits which 
were now ripening on the trees were those which at that 
time they had seen in blossom. 

The Major went backward and forward, and Mitcler 


Elective Affinities 

came frequently. The evenings were generally spent in 
exactly the same way. Edward usually read aloud, with 
more life and feeling than before ; much better, and even 
it may be said with more cheerfulness. It appeared as if 
he was endeavoring, by light-heartedness as much as by 
devotion, to quicken Ottilie's torpor into life, and dissolve 
her silence. He seated himself in the same position as he 
used to do, that she might look over his book ; he was un- 
easy and distracted unless she was doing so, unless he 
was sure that she was following his words with her eyes. 
Every trace had vanished of the unpleasant, ungracious 
feelings of the intervening time. No one had any secret 
complaint against another ; there were no cross purposes, 
no bitterness. The Major accompanied Charlotte's play- 
ing with his violin, and Edward's flute sounded again, as 
formerly, in harmony with Ottilie's piano. Thus they 
were now approaching Edward's birthday, which the year 
before they had missed celebrating. This time they were 
to keep it without any outward festivities, in quiet enjoy- 
ment among themselves. They had so settled it together, 
half expressly, half from a tacit agreement. As they ap- 
proached nearer to this epoch, however, an anxiety about 
it, which had hitherto been more felt than observed, be- 
came more noticeable in Ottilie's manner. She was to be 
seen often in the garden examining the flowers : she had 
signified to the gardener that he was to save as many as 
he could of every sort, and she had been especially occu- 
pied with the asters, which this year were blowing in 
immense profusion. 


Elective Affinities 


THE most remarkable feature, however, which was ob- 
served about Ottilie was that, for the first time, she had 
now unpacked the box, and had selected a variety of 
things out of it, which she had cut up, and which were 
intended evidently to make one complete suit for her. The 
rest, with Nanny's assistance, she had endeavored to re- 
place again, and she had been hardly able to get it done, 
the space being overfull, although a portion had been 
taken out. The covetous little Nanny could never sat- 
isfy herself with looking at all the pretty things, especially 
as she found provision made there for every article of 
dress which could be wanted, even the smallest. Num- 
bers of shoes and stockings, garters with*devices on them, 
gloves, and various other things were left, and she begged 
Ottilie just to give her one or two of them. Ottilie re- 
fused to do that, but opened a drawer in her wardrobe, 
and told the girl to take what she liked. The latter hast- 
ily and awkwardly dashed in her hand and seized what 
she could, running off at once with her booty, to show it 
off and display her good fortune among the rest of the 

At last Ottilie succeeded in packing everything carefully 


Elective Affinities 

into its place. She then opened a secret compartment, 
which was contrived in the lid, where she kept a number 
of notes and letters from Edward, many dried flowers, 
the mementos of their early walks together, a lock of his 
hair, and various other little matters. She now added 
one more to them, her father's portrait, and then locked it 
all up, and hung the delicate key by a gold chain about her 
neck, against her heart. 

In the meantime her friends had now in their hearts 
begun to entertain the best hopes for her. Charlotte was 
convinced that she would one day begin to speak again. 
She had latterly seen signs about her which implied that 
she was engaged in secret about something; a look of 
cheerful self-satisfaction, a smile like that which hangs 
about the face of persons who have something pleasant 
and delightful, which they are keeping concealed from 
those whom they love. No one knew that she spent many 
hours in extreme exhaustion, and that only at rare inter- 
vals, when she appeared in public through the power of 
her will, she was able to rouse herself. 

Mittler had latterly been a frequent visitor, and when 
he came he stayed longer than he usually did at other 
times. This strong-willed, resolute person was only too 
well aware that there is a certain moment in which alone 
it will answer to smite the iron. Ottilie's silence and 
reserve he interpreted according to his own wishes; no 
steps had as yet been taken toward a separation of the 
husband and wife. He hoped to be able to determine 
the fortunes of the poor girl in some not undesirable way. 


Elective Affinities 

He listened, he allowed himself to seem convinced; he 
was discreet and unobtrusive, and conducted himself in 
his own way with sufficient prudence. There was but 
one occasion on which he uniformly forgot himself 
when he found an opportunity for giving his opinion 
upon subjects to which he attached a great importance. 
He lived much within himself, and when he was with 
others his only relation to them generally was in active 
employment on their behalf ; but if once, when among his 
friends, his tongue broke fairly loose, as on more than 
one occasion we have already seen, he rolled out his words 
in utter recklessness, whether they wounded or whether 
they pleased, whether they did evil or whether they did 

The evening before the birthday the Major and Char- 
lotte were sitting together expecting Edward, who had 
gone out for a ride ; Mittler was walking up and down the 
saloon ; Ottilie was in her own room, laying out the dress 
which she was to wear on the morrow, and making signs 
to her maid about a number of things, which the girl, 
who perfectly understood her silent language, arranged 
as she was ordered. 

Mittler had fallen exactly on his favorite subject. One 
of the points on which he used most to insist was that in 
the education of children, as well as in the conduct of 
nations, there was nothing more worthless and barbarous 
than laws and commandments forbidding this and that 
action. "Man is naturally active," he said, "wherever he 
is; and if you know how to tell him what to do, he will do 


Elective Affinities 

it immediately, and keep straight in the direction in which 
you set him. I myself, in my own circle, am far better 
pleased to endure faults and mistakes till I know what the 
opposite virtue is that I am to enjoin, than to be rid of 
the faults and to have nothing good to put in their place. 
A man is really glad to do what is right and sensible if he 
only knows how to get at it. It is no such great matter 
with him ; he does it because he must have something to 
do, and he thinks no more about it afterward than he 
does of the silliest freaks which he engaged in out of the 
purest idleness. I can not tell you how it annoys me to 
hear people going over and over those Ten Command- 
ments in teaching children. The fifth is a thoroughly 
beautiful, rational, preceptive precept. 'Thou shalt honor 
thy father and thy mother.' If the children will inscribe 
that well upon their hearts they have the whole day be- 
fore them to put it in practise. But the sixth now ? What 
can we say to that? 'Thou shalt do no murder;' as if 
any man ever felt the slightest general inclination to 
strike another man dead. Men will hate sometimes ; they 
will fly into passions and forget themselves; and as a 
consequence of this or other feelings it may easily come 
now and then to a murder; but what a barbarous pre- 
caution it is to tell children that they are not to kill or 
murder! If the commandment ran, 'Have a regard for 
the life of another put away whatever can do him hurt 
save him, though with peril to yourself if you injure 
him, consider that you are injuring yourself that is 
the form which should be in use among educated, reason- 


Elective Affinities 

able people. And in our Catechism teaching we have only 
an awkward, clumsy way of sliding into it, through a 
'what do you mean by that ?' 

"And as for the seventh; that is utterly detestable. 
What ! to stimulate the precocious curiosity of children to 
pry into dangerous mysteries; to obtrude violently upon 
their imaginations, ideas and notions which, beyond all 
things, you should wish to keep from them ! It were far 
better if such actions as that commandment speaks of were 
dealt with arbitrarily by some secret tribunal than prated 
openly of before church and congregation " 

At this moment Ottilie entered the room. 
/ " 'Thou shalt not commit adultery/ " Mittler went on. 
"How coarse! how brutal! What a different sound it 
- has if you let it run, 'Thou shalt hold in reverence the 
bond of marriage. When thou seest a husband and a 
wife between whom there is true love, thou shalt rejoice 
in it, and their happiness shall gladden thee like the cheer- 
ful light of a beautiful day. If there arise anything to 
make division between them, thou shalt use thy best en- 
deavor to clear it away. Thou shalt labor to pacify them 
and to soothe them; to show each of them the excellen- 
cies of the other. Thou shalt not think of thyself, but 
purely and disinterestedly thou shalt seek to further the 
well-being of others, and make them feel what a hap- 
piness is that which arises out of all duty done; and 
especially out of that duty which holds man and wife 
indissolubly bound together.' ' 

Charlotte felt as if she was sitting on hot coals. The 


Elective Affinities 

situation was the more distressing, as she was convinced 
that Mittler was not thinking the least where he was or 
what he was saying ; and before she was able to interrupt 
him she saw Ottilie, after changing color painfully for a 1 
few seconds, rise and leave the room. 

Charlotte constrained herself to seem unembarrassed: 
"You will leave us the eighth commandment," she said, 
with a faint smile. 

"All the rest,". replied Mittler, "if I may only insist first 
on the foundation of the whole of them." 

At this moment Nanny rushed in, screaming and cry- 
ing, "She is dying ; the young lady is dying ; come to her, 

Ottilie had found her way back with extreme difficulty 
to her own room. The beautiful things which she was to 
wear the next day were laid out on a number of chairs; 
and the girl, who had been running from one to the other, 
staring at them and admiring them, called out in her 
ecstasy, "Look, dearest madam, only look! There is a 
bridal dress worthy of you." 

Ottilie heard the words, and sank upon the sofa. Nanny 
saw her mistress turn pale, fall back, and faint. She ran 
for Charlotte, who came. The medical friend was on the 
spot in a moment. He thought it was nothing but ex- 
haustion. He ordered some strong soup to be brought. 
Ottilie refused it with an expression of loathing : it almost 
threw her into convulsions when they put the cup to her 
lips. A light seemed to break on the physician : he asked 
hastily and anxiously what Ottilie had taken that day. 


Elective Affinities 

The little girl hesitated. He repeated this question, and 
she then acknowledged that Ottilie had taken nothing. 

There was a nervousness of manner about Nanny which 
made him suspicious. He carried her with him into the 
adjoining room; Charlotte followed; and the girl threw 
herself on her knees, and confessed that for a long time 
past Ottilie had taken as good as nothing; at her mis- 
tress's urgent request she had herself eaten the food which 
had been brought for her; she had said nothing about 
it because Ottilie had by signs alternately begged her not 
to tell any one, and threatened her if she did ; and, as she 
innocently added, "because it was so nice." 

The Major and Mittler now came up as well. They 
found Charlotte busy with the physician. The pale, 
beautiful girl was sitting, apparently conscious, in the 
corner of the sofa. They had begged her to lie down; 
she had declined to do this; but she made signs to have 
her box brought, and resting her feet upon it, placed 
herself in an easy, half recumbent position. She seemed 
to be wishing to take leave; and by her gestures was 
expressing to all about her the tenderest affection, love, 
gratitude, entreaties for forgiveness, and the most heart- 
felt farewell. 

Edward, on alighting from his horse, was informed 
of what had happened; he rushed to the room; threw 
himself down at her side; and seizing her hand, deluged 
it with silent tears. In this position he remained a long 
time. At last he called out: "And am I never more to 
hear your voice? Will you not turn back toward life, 


Elective Affinities 

to give me one single word? Well, then, very well. I 
will follow you yonder, and there we will speak in 
another language." 

She pressed his hand with all the strength she had; 
she gazed at him with a glance full of life and full of 
love; and drawing a long breath, and for a little while 
moving her lips inarticulately, with a tender effort of 
affection she called out, "Promise me to live;" and then 
fell back immediately. 

"I promise, I promise!" he cried to her; but he cried 
only after her; she was already gone. 

After a miserable night, the care of providing for the 
loved remains fell upon Charlotte. The Major and Mit- 
tler assisted her. Edward's condition was utterly pitia- 
ble. His first thought, when he was in any degree 
recovered from his despair, and able to collect himself, 
was that Ottilie should not be carried out of the castle; 
she should be kept there, and attended upon as if she 
were alive : for she was not dead ; it was impossible that 
she should be dead. They did what he desired; at least, 
so far as that they did not do what he had forbidden. 
He did not ask to see her. 

There was now a second alarm, and a further cause 
for anxiety. Nanny, who had been spoken to sharply 
by the physician, had been compelled by threats to con- 
fess, and- after her confession had been overwhelmed with 
reproaches, had now disappeared. After a long search she 
was found ; but she appeared to be out of her mind. Her 
parents took her home; but the gentlest treatment had 


Elective Affinities 

no effect upon her, and she had to be locked up for fear 
she should run away again. 

They succeeded by degrees in recovering Edward from 
the extreme agony of despair ; but only to make him more 
really wretched. He now saw clearly, he could not doubt 
how, that the happiness of his life was gone from him 
forever. It was suggested to him that if Ottilie was 
placed in the chapel, she would still remain among the 
living, and it would be a calm, quiet, peaceful home for 
her. There was much difficulty in obtaining his con- 
sent; he would only give it under condition that she 
should be taken there in an open coffin; that the vault 
in which she was laid, if covered at all, should be only 
covered with glass, and a lamp should be kept always 
burning there. It was arranged that this should be done, 
and then he seemed resigned. 

They clothed the delicate body in the festal dress, 
which she had herself prepared. A garland of asters was 
wreathed about her head, which shone sadly there like 
melancholy stars. To decorate the bier and the church 
and chapel, the gardens were robbed of their beauty ; they 
lay desolate, as if a premature winter had blighted all 
their loveliness. In the earliest morning she was borne 
in an open coffin out of the castle, and the heavenly 
features were once more reddened with the rising sun. 
The mourners crowded about her as she was being taken 
along. None would go before ; none would follow ; every 
one would be where she was, every one would enjoy her 
presence for the last time. Men and women, and little 


Elective Affinities 

boys, there was not one unmoved ; least of all to be con- 
soled were the girls, who felt most immediately what 
they had lost. 

Nanny was not present ; it had been thought better not 
to allow it, and they had kept secret from her the day and 
the hour of the funeral. She was at her parents' house, 
closely watched, in a room looking toward the garden. 
But when she heard the bells tolling, she knew too well 
what they meant; and her attendant having left her out 
of curiosity to see the funeral, she escaped out of the 
window into a passage, and from thence, finding all the 
doors locked, into an upper open loft. At this moment 
the funeral was passing through the village, which had 
been all freshly strewed with leaves. Nanny saw her mis- 
tress plainly close below her, more plainly, more entirely 
than any one in the procession underneath ; she appeared 
to be lifted above the earth, borne as it were on clouds or 
waves, and the girl fancied she was making signs to her ; 
x her senses swam, she tottered, swayed herself for a mo- 
ment on the edge, and fell to the ground. The crowd fell 
asunder on all sides with a cry of horror. In the tumult 
and confusion the bearers were obliged to set down the 
coffin ; the girl lay close by it : it seemed as if every limb 
was broken. They lifted her up, and by accident or provi- 
dentially she was allowed to lean over the body ; she ap- 
peared, indeed, to be endeavoring with what remained to 
her of life to reach her beloved mistress. Scarcely, how- 
ever, had the loosely hanging limbs touched Ottilie's robe, 
and the powerless finger rested on the folded hands, than 


Elective Affinities 

the girl started up, and first raising her arms and eyes 
toward heaven, flung herself down upon her knees before 
the coffin, and gazed with passionate devotion at her 

At last she sprang, as if inspired, from off the ground, 
and cried with a voice of ecstasy : "Yes, she has forgiven 
me; what no man, what I myself could never have for- 
given. God forgives me through her look, her motion, 
her lips. Now she is lying again so still and quiet, but 
you saw how she raised herself up, and unfolded her 
hands and blessed me, and how kindly she looked at me. 
You all heard, you can witness that she said to me, 'You 
are forgiven.' I am not a murderess any more. She has 
forgiven me. God has forgiven me, and no one may 
now say anything more against me.' ' 

The people stood crowding around her. They were 
amazed ; they listened and looked this way and that, and 
no one knew what should next be done. "Bear her on 
to her rest," said the girl. "She has done her part; she 
has suffered, and can not now remain any more among 
us." The bier moved on, Nanny now following it; and 
thus they reached the church and the chapel. 

So now stood the coffin of Ottilie, with the child's cof- 
fin at her head, and her box at her feet, inclosed in a 
resting-place of massive oak. A woman had been pro- 
vided to watch the body for the first part of the time 
as it lay there so beautifully beneath its glass covering. 
But Nanny would not permit this duty to be taken from 
herself. She would remain alone without a companion, 


Elective Affinities 

and attend to the lamp which was now kindled for the 
first time ; and she begged to be allowed to do it with so 
much eagerness and perseverance that they let her have 
her way, to prevent any greater evil that might ensue. 

But she did not long remain alone. As night was fall- 
ing, and the hanging lamp began to exercise its full right 
and shed abroad a larger lustre, the door opened and the 
Architect entered the chapel. The chastely ornamented 
walls in the mild light looked more strange, more awful, 
more antique than he was prepared to see them. Nanny 
was sitting on one side of the coffin. She recognized him 
immediately; but she pointed in silence to the pale form 
of her mistress. And there stood he on the other side, in 
the vigor of youth and of grace, with his arms droop- 
ing and his hands clasped piteously together, motionless, 
with head and eye inclined over the inanimate body. 

Once already he had stood thus before in the Belisarius ; 
he had now involuntarily fallen into the same attitude. 
And this time how naturally! Here, too, was something 
of inestimable worth thrown down from its high estate. 
There were courage, prudence, power, rank, and wealth 
in one single man, lost irrevocably; there were qualities 
which, in decisive moments, had been of indispensable 
service to the nation and the prince ; but which, when the 
moment was passed, were no more valued, but flung aside 
and neglected, and cared for no longer. And here were 
many other silent virtues, which had been summoned but 
a little time before by nature out of the depths of her 
treasures, and now swept rapidly away again by her care- 


Elective Affinities 

less hand rare, sweet, lovely virtues, whose peaceful 
workings the thirsty world had welcomed, while it had 
them, with gladness and joy; and now was sorrowing for 
them in unavailing desire. 

Both the youth and the girl were silent for a long time. 
But when she saw the tears streaming fast down his 
cheeks, and he appeared to be sinking under the burden 
of his sorrow, she spoke to him with so much truthful- 
ness and power, with such kindness and such confidence, 
that, astonished at the flow of her words, he was able 
to recover himself, and he saw his beautiful friend float- 
ing before him in the new life of a higher world. His 
tears ceased flowing; his sorrow grew lighter: on his 
knees he took leave of Ottilie, and with a warm pressure 
of the hand of Nanny he rode away from the spot into 
the night without having seen a single other person. 

The surgeon had, without the girl being aware of it, 
remained all night in the church; and when he went in 
the morning to see her, he found her cheerful and tran- 
quil. He was prepared for wild aberrations. He thought 
that she would be sure to speak to him of conversations 
which she had held in the night with Ottilie, and of other 
such apparitions. But she was natural, quiet, and per- 
fectly self-possessed. She remembered accurately what 
had happened in her previous life ; she could describe the 
circumstances of it with the greatest exactness, and never 
in anything which she said stepped out of the course of 
what was real and natural, except in her account of what 
had passed with the body, which she delighted to repeat 


Elective Affinities 

again and again how Ottilie had raised herself up, had 
blessed her, had forgiven her, and thereby set her at rest 

Ottilie remained so long in her beautiful state, which 
more resembled sleep than death, that a number of per- 
sons were attracted there to look at her. The neighbors 
and the villagers wished to see her again, and every one 
desired to hear Nanny's incredible story from her own 
mouth. Many laughed at it, most doubted, and some few 
were found who were able to believe. 

Difficulties, for which no real satisfaction is attainable, 
compel us to faith. Before the eyes of all the world 
Nanny's limbs had been broken, and by touching the 
sacred body she had been restored to strength again. 
Why should not others find similar good fortune? Deli- 
cate mothers first privately brought their children who 
were suffering from obstinate disorders, and they believed 
that they could trace an immediate improvement. The 
confidence of the people increased, and at last there was 
no one so old or so weak as not to have come to seek fresh 
life and health and strength at this place. The concourse 
became so great that they were obliged, except at the 
hours of divine service, to keep the church and chapel 

Edward did not venture to look at her again ; he lived 
on mechanically; he seemed to have no tears left, and to 
be incapable of any further suffering ; his power of taking 
interest in what was going on diminished every day; his 
appetite gradually failed. The only refreshment which 

Elective Affinities 

did him any good was what he drank out of the glass, 
which to him, indeed, had been but an untrue prophet. 
He continued to gaze at the intertwining initials, and the 
earnest cheerfulness of his expression seemed to signify 
that he still hoped to be united with her at last. And as 
every little circumstance combines to favor the fortunate, 
and every accident contributes to elate him, so do the most 
trifling occurrences love to unite to crush and overwhelm 
the unhappy. One day as Edward raised the beloved 
glass to his lips, he put it down and thrust it from him 
with a shudder. It was the same and not the same. He 
missed a little private mark upon it. The valet was ques- 
tioned, and had to confess that the real glass had not long 
since been broken, and that one like it belonging to the 
same set had been substituted in its place. 

Edward could not be angry. His destiny had spoken 
out with sufficient clearness in the fact, and how should 
he be affected by the shadow? and yet it touched him 
deeply. He seemed now to dislike drinking, and thence- 
forward purposely to abstain from food and from 

But from time to time a sort of restlessness came over 
him; he would desire to eat and drink something, and 
would begin again to speak. "Ah!" he said one day to 
the Major, who now seldom left his side, "how unhappy 
I am that all my efforts are but imitations ever, and false 
and fruitless. What was blessedness to her is pain to me ; 
and yet for the sake of this blessedness I am forced to 
take this pain upon myself. I must go after her ; follow 


Elective Affinities 

her by the same road. But my nature and my promise 
hold me back. It is a terrible difficulty, indeed, to imitate 
the inimitable. I feel clearly, my dear friend, that genius 
is required for everything ; for martyrdom as well as the 

What shall we say of the endeavors which in this hope- 
less condition were made for him? his wife, his friends, 
his physician incessantly labored to do something for 
him. But it was all in vain : at last they found him dead. 
Mittler was the first to make the melancholy discovery; 
he called the physician, and examined closely, with his 
usual presence of mind, the circumstances under which 
he had been found. Charlotte rushed in to them ; she was 
afraid that he had committed suicide, and accused herself 
and accused others of unpardonable carelessness. But the 
physician on natural and Mittler on moral grounds were 
soon able to satisfy her of the contrary. It was quite 
clear that Edward's end had taken him by surprise. In a 
quiet moment he had taken out of his pocketbook and out 
of a casket everything which remained to him as memo- 
rials of Ottilie, and had spread them out before him; a 
lock of hair, flowers which had been gathered in some 
happy hour, and every letter which she had written to 
him from the first, which his wife had ominously hap- 
pened to give him. It was impossible that he would in- 
tentionally have exposed these to the danger of being seen 
by the first person who might happen to discover him. 

But so lay the heart, which but a short time before had 
been so swift and eager, at rest now, where it could never 



Elective Affinities 

be disturbed; and falling asleep, as he did, with his 
thoughts on one so saintly, he might well be called blessed. 
Charlotte gave him his place at Ottilie's side, and arranged 
that thenceforth no other person should be placed with 
them in the same vault. 

In order to secure this she made it a condition under 
which she settled considerable sums of money on the 
church and the school. 

Thus the lovers lie sleeping side by side ; peace hovers 
above their resting-place ; fair angel faces gaze down upon 
them from aloft. And what happiness is in store for 
them at the moment of their common awakening !