Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

young wife

sonages to whom my presentation was to be made.

The ball concluded with a pretty dance, performed by the Crown Prince and his alone. It was the most pleasing to me; the royal couple seeming so good and so well matched in all respects. King Oscar, who is a most affectionate father, came up to me when it was finished, and said these words—which I am not likely to forget: -"Do not Carl and Louise dance well together?The tone, the look, the words, are quite an epitome of his character. If it had been the humblest of his subjects speaking with simplicity of two little pet children, the words would have been as natural, but perhaps not so well remembered. And just in keeping with the speech, was the kindness with which, when, at three o'clock, a nobleman in attendance presented to his Majesty a cup of coffee, he turned to the stranger, and asked if she too would not have some. Matters that are almost less than trifles in themselves, when they indicate the character of those whose position is great, acquire some degree of great

ness.

Very weary, yet much gratified by the amiability of the truly charming Royal Family of Sweden, I descended the vast, bare, chillingly cold stone stairs, which always remind one of being in Scandinavia, whatever refinement above them may tempt you to forget the fact; and in the passage (having the right of entry) the sledge of Sir E. was waiting, with its windows cased with a rim of iron-hard ice, a full inch thick, and several inches high. Something like a misty rain had been falling when we came, so that the King had remarked to the English stranger that it has quite “un tems, Anglais;" yet such was the change that had now occurred. And so I got back to my room, and was afraid to leave it all the next day, lest I should have to tell my old state-loving hostess that not one of my well-practised reverences had been made, nor a single bit of my little train displayed.

She heard the story, however; and when I confessed that my train had been tucked over my arm the whole night, she lifted up both hands, and exclaimed: “Madame, never tell any one else of your presentation at Court! It is just as

had not been presented at all!” I assured her I knew how to keep my own secrets; and I hope you will approve of my method of keeping them.

if you

224

CHAPTER XII.

I AM now startled, sometimes thrice a day, always each morning at an early hour, by some strange man throwing open the door, and calling out my name, or something that has a remote affinity to my name, in a short and rather authoritative style. He has only come to deliver an invitation, but he appears like an officer of justice delivering a summons.

One.seldom or never receives a written note, or card of invitation, here. A man comes in, and, if he has got many such orders to deliver, hastily says

“Madame B— is invited to dinner on Thursday, clock four, at the house of so and so."

To which you reply, “I thank them, I shall come.”

An invitation with a fortnight's notice is delivered in the same way: ladies are not fond of writing in Sweden, and certainly this fashion saves a deal of trouble. The first time this occurred I was really alarmed, for the messenger happened to be a royal one, bearing a long paper in his hand on which my name was inscribed; and I fled to my hostess dreading that I had become implicated in a political conspiracy.

She uttered the all-significant Ja-so ! went to the tambour, and came back to me in a roar of laughter, to explain the cause of my alarm.

The fact is, the gay season is now commenced, and an impetus is given to social life in Stockholm, which is so marvellous to me that I seem to stand and look at its flight, just as, a short time

ago,

I stood waiting for it to approach my ideas of progression. .

But what is called the gay season in Stockholm, is also more definitely termed the ball season; and truly this is the appropriate name for that short time during which all the fashionable life of the capital is in a whirl that renders young heads giddy, and old heads, I am sure, very stupid ; for dancing is the piece de resistance of all Swedish

VOL. II.

99 at

entertainments, and almost the sum total of Swedish gaiety.

This gay season commences with the new year, and is as violent in its nature as it is short in its duration. The state balls, and “receptions the ministers' houses, are over in about two months, and a decided relaxation then takes place in the almost frantic dancing which goes on everywhere, and in all places, throughout that period.

To many kind friends am I indebted for the invitations I receive to gaieties which might be as unsuitable to me as I am to them, if it were not that I make it a point of conscience to recollect that I was invited to come here to make acquaintance with the social life of Sweden; therefore, I go to as many parties as I can manage to go to, and I am very thankful to those who ask me: and, if I say that I find the gaieties of Stockholm rather dull to me, the cause is easily seen to exist in a term of years and a state of life, which have, unhappily, no immediate sympathy or interest in them. The truth is, that words can scarcely give an idea of anything more tiresome, in general, than are those great Stockholm balls, to a person like myself, who neither dances, nor

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »