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And then there is the Mälar, or that mouth of the Mälar which is called Norström, the current by which it flows rapidly under Norrbro into the Baltic. This side of the bridge presents a more distant, but less diversified and, so to speak, populous view. There is one tiny islet close at hand, with one solitary house upon it, but its elevated banks are covered with villas, and under the bridge its stream rushes free and wild through an icy channel, the only bit of water to be seen ; resisting by its own impetuosity the power of the ice-king
And at one end of this bridge there is Gustaf Adolfs Torg, with a queer-looking dingy old palace at one side, the lower ground of which is used as a guard-house; and there, at the hour of changing guard, comes forth a soldier and sets up a yell that is unrivalled by any sound proceeding from human lungs. So horrible a thing I never heard; I trembled for five minutes after hearing it the first time; for the man bounced out and yelled as I passed, so that I started and clung to my companion's arm in the full belief that he had been seized with madness. At the other side of this large square, in the centre of which stands a statue of the hero of Protestantism, is the Opera
House, built by Gustavus III., and in which he was shot by Ankerström. At the other end of the bridge is the Palace, and a view of part of Södormaln.
This square, called Gustaf Adolfs Torg, presents a curious item in the wide-spread snowy landscape, when its broad space is traversed in all directions by flying sledges; their tinkling bells rather perplexing than pre-warning the footpassengers, for while I strain my eyes in one way at the sound, I perceive I ought first to have got out of danger in another. When the men see I am frightened, they sometimes laugh, sometimes pull off their hats and make me a bow. I think the young ones laugh, and the old ones bow ; but I imagine if either killed me they would do just the same.
Those most difficult to avoid, and almost more dangerous, are the hand-sledges, with which boys are now everywhere careering about, especially where there is sloping ground; pushing the machine into a run, then throwing themselves flat upon it, and swimming over the frozen snow. Another mode is that of sitting upright with a foot on each pole, and conducting themselves; coming down a hill, however, very often with
their eyes and thoughts engaged on anything as much as on the preservation of my limbs.
I had heard so much of the danger of walking on the icy ground, that I had little hope of being able to do so, and a tall Swede told me I should always have his arm; but as I do not always find my own long enough to reach to where it is, I make my own feet supply its place, and I have never yet met the least accident.
Ice and snow have put life into Swedes, and into myself also. Everything goes on sledges, and everything goes quicker; the post comes earlier, the butchers' boys move with more alacrity; they skim over the streets with a load of meat before them, pushing the sledge on with their hands, and, when it has got an impetus, jumping up on the wooden projections behind, and getting a ride in return for a race; then descending and repeating the impetus, and so mounting again.
Women, the true labourers of Sweden, draw sledges to market, and drag heavy loads of wood over the frozen waters. Every description of vehicle bearing that name, is now to be seen, from the splendid royal one of the Crown Prince, who becomes it so well, and seems formed to sit
among its magnificent leopard-skins, and conduct its handsome, white net-covered-and-bell-ornamented steeds, down to the rudest and most primitive ones that labour, industry, or necessity could design.
At this season some one wrote to The Times, saying the intense cold of Stockholm had set the dogs mad. A curious malady was indeed prevalent among them, but it was not caused by cold; for, by the time the announcement appeared in The Times, that intensity of cold had passed away, but the dogs were as mad as ever. was allowed to take a dog loose into the streets; the police killed all the poor stragglers. I met a friend with a long cloak hanging from his shoulders, coming over the bridge, with a dog before him held in a long string; I thought the poor man
blind. I am now making many acquaintances; a good number of icicled moustaches, beards, and whiskers come into my warm room, and the thaw that commences is droll enough. I often think, that as no Swede would enter a house without leaving his goloshes in the tambour, or entrancehall, they ought to have a sort of frost-proof
covering for these appendages of the face, which might also be removed and left in the tambour until they went out again.
A droll young Englishman here advised me to recommend a Bloomer costume to the ladies ; but I think this hint to the men is more in my way.
My old hostess, I say, makes it a rule never to tell me of anything that is worth going to see until it is over; and then she tells me how well worth seeing it was.
“But why not tell me that before, Madame ?”
“You would not care for that; I knew that. You are a stranger here. Of course it would be no interest to you to see our customs; they are not like
own.” Most sagacious reasons; but the old lady always departs from her practice in any case where the Royal Family is to be seen.
“Madame, you will go there ; the Kingly Family will be present. It is a tableau vivant to see them."
“But I have seen them often."
“Ack! how droll the English are,” is said sotto voce to another. “They never care to see any.