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of the solitary stranger on this day of re-unions; but there was good in this, too, for it taught me just to do the contrary if ever it lay in my way. Well, darkness came on, the people were all housed ; within some doors, all were jocund, hearty—I dare say sufficiently noisy, for within and without makes a vast difference in Swedish manners ; but everything outside was still, and having nothing to look at but the snow, with the lights here and there glittering over it, and nothing to hear, for all traffic and even motion were at an end, save the chance tingle of a stray sledge-bell,
-I found it was necessary to open the mental safety-valve, and therefore I took up my pen, when, as if to reward a good child, there came a ring to our door-bell, and I heard a voice outside asking the portress if the English Fruntimmer had gone out.
I ran out on the bitterly cold stone passage, and called out “Nay!" a word which is as good in Swedish as in English ; and then I had the pleasure of at last saying, “How do you do ?” on St. Stephen's-day of visiting in Sweden.
“I have come, Madame," said this good Swede, with the usual number of bows, “to bring you to a wedding. You said you would like to see a
wedding in the old style—a real Swedish wedding. It is to be in the country, about four miles off. The house was once a pleasure-house of Queen Christina; it is thought she walks there still. The sledge is at the door, if you will come.”
A Swedish wedding, and Queen Christina's ghost! I threw my pen away, ran into the next room, changed my dress, put on my cloak, pulled its hood over my head, and said, “I am ready,” before my Swede had had time enough to finish his bows.
The sledge was waiting, and this was to be my first night-sledging. The horse was very large for a Swedish one, the carriage small and low; the driver stood on the board behind, holding the long reins, like a Hansom cabman, only the Swede never sits. In the clear twilight of that northern evening he looked strikingly picturesque, and quite in keeping with the white background of the coup d'oeil we had in descending. A huge cape of black wolf or dog fur descended almost to his knees; a very high cap of the same, a sort of shako, surmounted his head, and was pulled down to his eyebrows; the fur collar rose over his mouth, so that the vacant space left by the black fur revealed only the projection of a long turned
up nose, and a pair of small, vividly black eyes, the sole members exposed to sight or to frost.
I was dressed for a covered sledge, and found this was an open one.
No matter; I preferred braving the keen air to returning up those dark, ice-cold stone stairs for more muffling. We got in; pulled the fur apron over us; I said, “Go on,” in English, and my companion said, “Go on,” in Swedish, and the words were quite the same; the bells jingled, and we were off. The white ground, the clear calm air, the sparkling lights, were accessories to enjoyment. The sledgebells sounded softly musical in the stilly air. " They are quite lulling," I said, “they would incline one to sleep on a journey."
“ Yes," said the Swede; “I can assure you, Madame, that our ladies in the country are often lulled to sleep by them when they are coming home at night, perhaps twenty or thirty miles that is, of your miles from the balls. But that is dangerous, oh, very dangerous indeed, to sleep at night in an open sledge; and then when they awake, they may also find themselves in the ditch."
“ And do your ladies travel at night in open
“That they must often do if they go to country balls; but they muffle themselves well up.”
We were soon ascending the heights of Södor, or Södormaln, the south suburb of Stockholm. It was so beautiful! The lights from the manywindowed and unevenly-situated houses, the effects of which are an unceasing pleasure to me from my windows, were now sparkling out on the snow around, beföre, behind us; the palace was all lighted up; the old Queen Dowager, I believe, entertained her royal and most amiable son that day. We passed by the water, or what had been the water, where now the frost-bound ships and boats stood motionless and silent: the streets were as quiet as in the dead of night, yet it was scarcely six o'clock; only the half-frozen sentinels, and a strangely isolated-looking passenger, were to be
We got beyond the town. I beheld, for the first time in Sweden, a winter country scene by night. My companion, assuring me that it did not always look so dreary, thought me very polite to him or to his country, while all the time the admiration and pleasure expressed were real and heartfelt.
The scenery was new and picturesque to my eyes. The snow just then lay deep, the ground
was abruptly broken into hills and hollows, the moon had not risen, yet all was distinctly visible in the clear twilight, and the large stars spangled the lofty sky. Our tinkling bells warned a few walkers of our otherwise noiseless approach ; but no decent woman in Sweden goes without a lantern, and the only one we met had hers in a curious fashion. I thought it was a moving lamppost at a distance; but I found she had her lantern fastened like a great brooch to her person, in order that her hands should not be benumbed by holding it. At last we left the public road, and ascended a hilly avenue to a very retired old house, which had once been a favourite villa of that famous, and perhaps still little understood personage, Queen Christina. The Swedes, who certainly relish a bit of scandal as much as any other of their national dishes, tell all sorts of stories about the origin of this retreat, which was then further removed from what was the fashionable side of Stockholm: but if this now common-place and dilapidated old house was really the scene of such adventures as they hint at, it is no wonder that the ghost of poor Queen Christina returns to visit, by the glimpses of the
the theatre of earthly and perhaps repented folly.
And when we got into this old house, it ap