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last met a man in royal livery, who proved to be the very one we wanted, the servant of the Mistress of the Eobes.
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 Eobes.
My good hostess had told me how I must behave, what I must do, and what I must say; but, alas I 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 I 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 Malar, 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 Eobes 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 Eobes, 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 Eobes 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 fete 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 ," said the kind Mistress of the Eobes. "I will receive and present you."
"If Sir will take me," I cried in English,
A bow, and friendly smile dispelled the fear.
I was about to withdraw, when I ventured to ask the Mistress of the Eobes the anxious question— In what manner should I be clothed?
"Will you dance ?" was the query inreturn. "If you dance, you must wear white; then the Princes will see that, and invite you to dance with them."
"I never dance."
"Then you must wear black. You must have short white sleeves, puckered up with black ribbon, and a train like your dress; for all - the rest, you are at liberty; we are by no means strict in our fashions here. You may choose your head-dress."
I curtsied back to the door—the room was a very little one—and hastened home to delight my old hostess with all the bustle and anxiety of preparing for a presentation at Court.
That good lady most pertinaciously tries to get me to dress and act in uniformity with the fashions that existed in the world of Sweden when she mixed m it about forty years ago. No other world, past or present, has she any idea of; and to be out of this, her now ideal world, is in her opinion to be— what? I suspect an uncivilised Briton. The conventional laws of Swedish society, as thus described, appear to me exceedingly galling; and I act the rebel on the simple plea of non-naturalization—of being, in all respects, an alien to them. But such a thing as a Court presentation is one that places me completely under the good lady's yoke. There is not a single point in all my antecedents on which I can rest, not a precedent in all my long experience I can adduce. I know nothing that may be like a presentation at the Court of Stockholm, and so the dear old dame must have her own way, and school me, as she loves well to do. Court fashions are unchanging, Court etiquette and Court costume are despotic. But the head-dress had been left at my own option; glad to exercise self-will, I went to the old Countess as soon as I thought of this.