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The shop proved to be a perfumery and fancy stationery one also. There was a woman only therein, who, when I asked for Monsieur, said she was his wife, and supposed she would do as well. I replied no, for I wanted him to come to dress
“Not your own hair," she said, in a solemn and questioning manner.
“ Certainly my own hair."
The good woman looked at me with a face that plainly said, “What an audaciously hardened creature this must be to make such a proposal !” Then abruptly saying, “He is absent ! he is in Paris ! he is very ill in bed !" she turned her back, and looked up at the articles on her shelf.
I went away; on our road I saw a sign with " Perukmakare"
and before Fröken could stop me I entered the shop. There was a man here.
“Is it to make a peruke ?” he inquired.
poor man seemed to undergo a convulsion to avoid laughter. Then he looked so awkward ;
I think he blushed. But I looked out, and saw Fröken standing, with a very pretty face of perfect distress, in the street.
Madame! Madame !" she cried at the door, when I appeared, "that is impossible that we can ask for a hair-dresser in Stockholm ! Pray, Madame, come home; I want to be at home.”
I went home with the poor girl, thinking only that it is very unpleasant for any one not interested in an object to go about thus on an unpleasant day, looking for what is not easily found.
A few minutes after we entered the house, I followed Fröken to the salong, and found my hostess leaning her back against the kakelugn, or stove, and laughing most heartily; while Fröken stood before with a half-ashamed, half-relieved countenance, evidently in the act of confession.
“Yes, Madame,” cried the former, interrupting her laugh to speak to me, and taking it up again,
yes, I am telling her that is not so dangerous," and the laugh recommenced.
That there was some infection going which such persons were in danger of conveying, I was now quite convinced: but when I simply asked if this
were the case, a roar of laughter echoed through the great room.
It brought out some young ladies to see if what was going on were rolig-a word, I think, oftener used in the Swedish language than in any other, certainly oftener than we use its English expletive—amusing. But to see all the modest faces that were put to the blush when they heard that Madame had actually been inquiring for a hair-dresser !
“Well,” said the hostess at last, “it is not wonderful that Madame should do so, for in my younger days it was not thought improper to employ a man to dress hair.”
“Improper !" I cried, opening my eyes, as a new light dawned on them, and that good wife's shocked expression of face reappeared before them; “Improper! why in England, where propriety is very much thought of, and in France too, that is an every-day occurrence.''
“Yes, yes, that is not dangerous; and that I find quite a foolish idea, though it is our custom,” said our hostess, for once in her life giving up the perfection and immutability of Swedish ways. “It was not so in my youth. No, when I was in the world it was not improper to have a hair-dresser."
The ladies ran away; and I asked the elder
one in private what it was that constituted this impropriety.
“ That is just what I cannot well say,” she replied; “but no lady here would have a man to dress her hair; they have women who are taught to do so."
“But these women are taught by men.” “Yes, but man kan inte hjelpe det.”
“The fact is it is a lady's propriety, but not a woman’s, that is shocked by employing a male hair-dresser," I remarked.
“It is our custom, Madame; but I grant you that I do not think it a wise one, for it was not thought dangerous when I was in the world forty years ago."
" But how can it be so now ?"
“Why-you know he must go into the ladies' apartments."
“Yes, but men often do so here, at all times, and sit and talk there with them."
but you know their toilet is not complete when their hair is to be dressed."
“But propriety is much more outraged when it is complete," I answered.
“Man kan inte hjelpe det,” said the noble dame, and ran off to the kitchen.
Well, at last I am equipped for my presentation. Having spent the whole morning of a misty day walking about with Professor Retzius to see the schools, and some of the fabrications and artificers of Stockholm, I came back with a headache, and found my time would be well occupied in preparing for the momentous event before me. But, thanks to a kind Englishwoman, I was got ready in time.
Behold me, then, attired in a black silk dress, with little white silk sleeves, curiously looped up with black; and with a train that is the glory of all, and which
gave full employment to the ancient Countess, who stands in the centre of the great saloon to imitate the Queen of Sweden, and still very condescendingly shows me how I am to let my train fall when I make my reverence, and to gather it up when the business is over; and telling me a tale of a splendid lady who made such a beautiful reverence, and wore such a full train, that her husband went with her to draw it out when she let it drop, so that it might be seen to advantage while she curtsied.
To tell the truth, these same “reverences" sadly disturbed
of mind. The Swedes, of all ranks, are undoubtedly the first curtsey