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Chapter 6
Clerval then put the following letter into my hands. It was from my own Elizabeth:
"My dearest Cousin,
"You have been ill, very ill, and even the constant letters of dear kind Henry are not
sufficient to reassure me on your account. You are forbidden to write--to hold a pen; yet
one word from you, dear Victor, is necessary to calm our apprehensions. For a long time
I have thought that each post would bring this line, and my persuasions have restrained
my uncle from undertaking a journey to Ingolstadt. I have prevented his encountering the
inconveniences and perhaps dangers of so long a journey, yet how often have I regretted
not being able to perform it myself! I figure to myself that the task of attending on your
sickbed has devolved on some mercenary old nurse, who could never guess your wishes
nor minister to them with the care and affection of your poor cousin. Yet that is over
now: Clerval writes that indeed you are getting better. I eagerly hope that you will
confirm this intelligence soon in your own handwriting.
"Get well--and return to us. You will find a happy, cheerful home and friends who love
you dearly. Your father's health is vigorous, and he asks but to see you, but to be assured
that you are well; and not a care will ever cloud his benevolent countenance. How
pleased you would be to remark the improvement of our Ernest! He is now sixteen and
full of activity and spirit. He is desirous to be a true Swiss and to enter into foreign
service, but we cannot part with him, at least until his elder brother returns to us. My
uncle is not pleased with the idea of a military career in a distant country, but Ernest
never had your powers of application. He looks upon study as an odious fetter; his time is
spent in the open air, climbing the hills or rowing on the lake. I fear that he will become
an idler unless we yield the point and permit him to enter on the profession which he has
"Little alteration, except the growth of our dear children, has taken place since you left
us. The blue lake and snow-clad mountains--they never change; and I think our placid
home and our contented hearts are regulated by the same immutable laws. My trifling
occupations take up my time and amuse me, and I am rewarded for any exertions by
seeing none but happy, kind faces around me. Since you left us, but one change has taken
place in our little household. Do you remember on what occasion Justine Moritz entered
our family? Probably you do not; I will relate her history, therefore in a few words.
Madame Moritz, her mother, was a widow with four children, of whom Justine was the
third. This girl had always been the favourite of her father, but through a strange
perversity, her mother could not endure her, and after the death of M. Moritz, treated her
very ill. My aunt observed this, and when Justine was twelve years of age, prevailed on
her mother to allow her to live at our house. The republican institutions of our country
have produced simpler and happier manners than those which prevail in the great
monarchies that surround it. Hence there is less distinction between the several classes of