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“Madame, in that case you will not wear the
in a black dress and a shawl." “I may wear any dress I like; see, here is a postscript—my usual visiting-dress."
“Well, that is black. Certainly none of our ladies would pay a first visit, especially to a lady of the Court—in any dress but a black one."
“Well, but I am not one of your ladies. I will, however, wear my black velvet mantle with fur"
“Madame, a shawl is necessary."
little time," I cried, and ran away.
Presently after came my old hostess to my apartments, with a thick black crape shawl in her hand.
“Madame, if you will take my advice, you will not go to the Palace without a shawl. This is one I can lend you. I used to wear it when I went into the world."
To save her from talking on, and giving me all her experience of the world, and knowledge of its customs and fashions as they were forty years ago, I took the shawl, and listened to her directions how I was to wear my black velvet till I came to the tambour, or entrance-hall of the ladies' apartments in the palace: how I was there
to take off and leave my velvet mantle and outer shoes, and to arrange the black shawl on my shoulders previous to coming into the presence of the Mistress of the Robes ; how I should take my white gloves in
my pocket, and put them on at the same time—that saved them.
This being all arranged, I took the black crape shawl, and put it up carefully in my drawer; where it remained till I came back fror my visit. Punctually at two o'clock came his Excellency's equipage, and myself and my velvet mantle got into it. Rapidly did the sledge drive over beautiful Norrbro, or North Bridge, and up the snow-covered Palace Hill, and then we entered the wide cold vaults, or under-ground region, of that fine edifice. The passage leading under the palace, or rather right through it, and across the inner quadrangle, is considered public property. It is one of the chief thoroughfares. There is no policeman there to interdict the right of way.
We went through the long, chilly vaults, or arched passages, which support the building, passed the royal kitchens, and peeped at the cook and his white-jacketed helpers ; did not know at all where to go, but at
last met a man in royal livery, who proved to be the very one we wanted, the servant of the Mistress of the Robes.
We mounted an immense flight of great bare stone steps, and, up at the top of that vast palace, we were ushered into a very little room, with a very large window. The man, I think, made a movement to take off my velvet mantle, but not having the crape shawl under it, I evaded the movement by a little dip, and carried the contraband article into the actual presence of the Mistress of the Robes.
My good hostess had told me how I must behave, what I must do, and what I must sayo; but, alas ! for her pupil all her directions were locked up with her shawl at home, or as well might have been. That large window was straight before me as I came into the little room, and I saw nothing else. An exclamation of rapture burst from the lips which had been taught to utter a formal compliment. It was a beautiful idea to put that great window in that little reception room! The frozen scenery broke
away the ice of formality, even of Swedish formality. A description of such a view would be useless; it was as curious to English eyes as it was beautiful-extending over the
frozen scenery of the Baltic, and its splendid tributary, Lake Mälar, with the island of ships and the ice-bound vessels; the current of fresh water pouring, in strength too great for frost, to mingle itself with the salt. Swedish formality is only external; it is assumed, not natural; put on and taken off with facility. I forgot it altogether, and I believe its absence was not missed; for the Mistress of the Robes and myself chatted very pleasantly. That window opened a safety-valve for all the fears I had felt.
One of the most beautiful women of Sweden was also visiting the Mistress of the Robes, charming Friherrinnan B ****; and while she conversed with Excellenz, as they say here, I found myself talking of scenery and poetry and sundry things with Grefvinnan, just as if there was no presentation at the Court of Sweden hanging over my head.
At length the Mistress of the Robes asked me if I did not desire the honour of being presented to her Majesty the Queen.
To which, with deep humility, I replied, that if it were permitted to me to aspire to such an honour I would venture to do so.
“That you certainly may do," was the answer.
“You are, then, invited to the grand ball at the Palace, which will be given the day after to-morrow; you will receive a special invitation, but now her Majesty desires me to say she will be happy to receive you at the fête which takes place at the Palace on Carls-dag, or the Name-day of the Crown Prince Carl.”
In former times, every day in the year had its saint; and children often found a name from the almanac. Now, the Swedes have abolished a great many saints in their almanacs and in their churches, and substituted kings, warriors, or other noted personages
in their stead. Every royal person must have a name-day in the almanac, as well as a birthday; and when they do not find such names there already, the law makers change one for them. Thus, there never was an Oscar before in the 365 names of the Swedish almanac; but there is one now. King Oscar has his name-day, and some one who lived before him has lost his. Prince Carl found his name ready made ; for his grandfather, Carl Johan, was the fourteenth who bore it on the throne of Sweden, and he adopted it with the crown when he abdicated the French one of Baptiste. “You will go to the Palace with Sir