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peared as strange a place for a modern wedding, as for old-fashioned royal love. The hall was dark as well as ancient; and the doubting, half-frightened look of the man who opened the door, might lead us to the idea of some mystery, but to none akin to any ideas I could form of either of such circumstances. He led us about as if he did not in the least know where to take us, or what to do with us. . At last we got into a small and quite unfurnished den; and he held a long thin candle for our service, but seemed afraid to act as Swedish servants always do, in pulling off and on boots and shoes, and stockings and cloaks, &c.
Off this naked den was a gloomy closet, from whence a faint light issued. I penetrated its recess, in hopes of meeting the shade of Queen Christina ; but I only startled that of a miserable looking old man, who, without a chair, was leaning over the top of a high chest, using it as a table to read his psalm-book. But for that book I might have been frightened, and fancied I had been led wrong, and was to be made the heroine of my own romance; however, few people read a good book when meditating a bad action, so I dismissed all fear of robbers.
At last, a young woman of my acquaintance ran
into the room, exclaiming and scolding at my having been taken there. Then the facts of the case came out. The house and its premises were now a manufactory: the men I had seen were workmen, who had nothing at all to say to the wedding, poor fellows; and hearing me speak English to my companion, they never imagined that he could speak Swedish, or I either, and so let us do just as we liked. Another point which I began to understand was, that the house was lent only for the celebration of this wedding. As the bridegroom had to come a distance of fifty English miles on one side, and the bride about thirty on the other, they had agreed to begin a good rule in married life at the starting-post, and to meet halfway even at the altar; the man, whose greatness, we think, consists in yielding, giving up nearly half the distance in honour of the weaker being.
Leaving the young woman of the house to complete the toilet we had suspended, I made my way alone to that large low-ceiled apartment, called in barbarised Swedish-French salong, where an abundant supply of wooden logs was burning in an immense old stove, covered with what we call Dutch tiles. In the centre of this large, bare unfurnished room,
and just under the glass
chandelier, which hung from the low beamsupported ceiling, was placed a curious looking object, like a small ottoman, covered with a great pall of cotton-velvet, edged with gold lace, which had that sort of suspicious look that goods hired out on stated occasions generally acquire. Two small hassocks for kneeling on stood before it. At the upper end of the apartment, a handsome youth of one-and-twenty was standing beside a blackrobed solemn-looking priest, who, with snuff-box in hand, was applying to it, and speaking to him alternately. What affinity has a marriage and an execution ? I do not know; but certainly I entered the room expecting to see the one, and I immediately thought of the other—the block, the culprit, the priest, I saw—the executioner alone was wanting ; but perhaps the priest was to
However it was, the effect on me was anything but suitable to either occasion, for I burst into a laugh. That the singularlooking block in the centre of the floor was designed to represent the altar, never entered my thoughts, until, very soon after my entrance, I heard the clergyman observe, that the lowhung chandelier might set the bride's crown on fire. “ The crown! the crown !" was uttered
be his proxy.
by some voices at the door; and a few persons who were entering came forward, and, with the help of the young bridegroom, who had been standing beside the priest, removed the altar a little to one side.
This ceremony, I had been told, would take place at six o'clock, and at six I had come ; but an hour or two in Swedish time makes not quite so much difference as a minute or two does in English. I spent such extra hour or two in as stupid and comfortless a manner as possible. The few persons who were in the room seemed to be panic-stricken; the bridegroom behaved very properly, and showed less impatience than the priest, whose looks would have threatened a premature matrimonial reprimand if he had been the chosen spouse of the dilatory bride; the restless eyes and nervous movements of the snuff-box were indicative of impatience, At length, a crowd of guests came trooping in, the women all in large white shawls, and nearly all in black silk dresses. Soon after there was a low murmur, and the priest started up, took a large pinch of snuff, used a coloured handkerchief, and, returning it to his pocket, drew out a very large clean white one,
and rolled one corner round his forefinger, allowing the rest to hang down to his feet. The officiating clergy of Sweden always carry a white handkerchief thus; but as it is not, I suppose, a prescribed part of the Lutheran clerical habit, its purpose is quite puzzling to me, for, alas! it is not used either at altar or pulpit.* A slight movement on the part of the bridegroom turned my eyes to the door; it opened, a large party entered. The leader was a young,
slight, rather delicatelooking girl, dressed in black, with a long sash of white ribbon round her waist and down to her feet, and a crown of the natural narrow-leaved myrtle on her head. Next to her came three young girls in white and coloured dresses, and then the relatives of the bride. The young man came forward, took the hand of the girl in black with the myrtle crown, and silently led her up to the ottoman. The priest was already behind it, with open book and pendant handkerchief. A few minutes, and all was over. The most solemn silence prevailed. The matrons appeared to me universally to look upon their young sister with
* The disgusting practice prevalent in Sweden, and from which the clergy, even at such places, are not exempt, is here hinted at.