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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 bim 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 be his proxy. 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 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 comer 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, alarge 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 compassion, and the unaffianced girls to behold her with something like envy. The former, at least, began to weep; but Swedish tears flow readily. As soon as the ceremony was over, the bride had to bestow about one hundred and fifty kisses, which was the number of persons present. And then, just when—as children say —she might seem to have given all her kisses away, she suddenly turned round, and, with a look of recollection, murmured, "Ack! min Alfred!" and threw herself into the bridegroom's arms. The embrace was momentary, and, as I had just been presented to her, she looked at me, saying, by way, I suppose, of apology —
* The disgusting practice prevalent in Sweden, and from -which the clergy, even at such places, are not exempt; is here hinted at.
"I have not seen him for three months, never since we were betrothed."
The company adjourned to the inner room, where a general feeling of solemnity seemed to prevail.
At last, the usual libation of bad white German wine appeared, to drink the health of the young couple ; and at the same time entered the clergyman, whose office was not yet over: he carried a glass of wine in one hand, and the ensignia of office, the white handkerchief; hanging from his finger. He made a long speech, extolling the state of matrimony in general, and its peculiar blessedness in this particular instance, ending with advice and religious exhortation, which drew forth a renewal of tears from the married ladies. When this was ended, I began to think a Swedish wedding was about as dull a thing as an English one; and, a little discontented, I strolled back again to the salong. A lady was at the piano, and I asked her if there would be any dancing, saying, I had understood it was to be such a wedding as I wanted to see—a real oldfashioned Swedish one.
"Ah!" she replied, "there is no one disposed for dancing; they think too seriously for that. Yes, it is a serious thing to be married; and the priest's talk was so good! No, they will not dance to-night."
All the time her fingers were moving the keys. The bride and her husband appeared at the open folding-door; his arm was round her waist—her hand rested on his shoulder. Under the circumstances, such an attitude did not strike me as remarkable: but they flew from their post in a waltz, and in a moment almost every person but myself was whirling round the room.
To understand the real labour of dancing, one