Изображения страниц

a host of tinkling bells are shaking out from time to time, as each poor patient steed rather impatiently shakes its head-one set tinkles more briskly; my sledge wheels up; Linquist carefully leads me over a door-step that is one large icicle; streams the light of his lantern over the snowy ground, which is a slippery sheet of ice, and lifts me, in a peculiarly national fashion, into the vehicle, saving me, by his experience, from the dangers of a slip from the bare iron step. Now the calls of strange voices are heard, but I am provided for; Linquist mounts beside the bear on the driving box, not a bit of whose countenance is visible from the shaggy hide; we glide away. A view of the midnight winter scenery of Stockholm is charming, even when it is moonless; but if moonlight-then all looks so large, so white, so wide-spread, so distinct! The moon is such a great moon then ! it hangs so low, so unsupported, and disunited from the stay to which it always appears attached in England.

The noise of the orchestra fades from my ears, the whirling waltzers disappear from my giddy sight; on I go, surveying the calm, strange scenery, and I suppose, from a natural propensity to like best what I enjoy last, thinking that the

[ocr errors]

pleasantest part of the Stockholm winter balls is the coming away from them.

So I descend, or rather am descended by Linquist's arms; he unlocks the court-door, guides me up the stairs, and opens the house-door; I go in, get my lamp, and light it at his lantern; say Gud Natt; and himself and his adjunct disappear.

Nor is this winter gaiety confined to any particular orders of society; all people partake in it in one way or other. Here comes Karin, with a face that tells me something is going on, in which Madame can assist, if Madame will.

6 What is it, Karin ?"

She wants Madame to lend her a pair of white gloves. She and Beata are to be on a ball.

Some time passes, and Karin is with me again, and her face says the same thing; but she only inquires if Madame was ever at a costume ball.

"I have the honour of being invited to a masquerade ball, Karin, at His Royal Highness's, the Crown Prince.”

“ Ack ! how that will be amusing for Madame; -but that may be unlucky too, they say; for there never was a masquerade ball since King Gustaf a king who lived in the old time in Sweden, was shot at one."



LIFE IN SWEDEN. : 241 “Yes, that is a painful memory; but there is no fear now.”

"Nay, that there certainly is not. A costume ball is very amusing—if people could go."

66 Was Karin invited to one ?"

“Yes, and Beata too; and, yes—if Madame would lend a white skirt, and that red worsted braid ? "

"Oh! I understand ; you want to make up a dress.”

“That is precisely so. How well Madame guesses ! And Beata would make up one also, if she could.”

Two or three evenings afterwards, when I was sitting engaged in grave discourse with a serious Englishman, there came a tap to my door. I called,—Come in. In walked two little figures, attired in costume, by the help of a pair of white skirts, round which they had laid the red worsted braid in stripes; à couple of old boddices, and sundry bits of velvet and gold lace, twisted into their hair: the drollest, yet really neat and tidy little personages, they certainly were, though what exact characters they were to represent was as unknown to me as to themselves.

“We shall be Dahlkuller," said they, smiling VOL. II.

and curtseying, “and we are come to thank Madame, and let Madame see how well we look.”

"Be happy !” said the Englishman solemnly, speaking in Swedish.

I am admitted a member of the noble and honourable order of the Amaranth! I have been actually knighted ! But the great personagethe President, I suppose—who confers the order, is too polite to touch a lady's shoulder with a sword, and a wand only was laid upon mine; and a speech was made, explaining my duties and obligations, &c. &c., not one word of which I heard or understood, for the speaker was old, and rather mumbled the exhortation to our knightly duties. Then a medal was fastened on the same shoulder by my cavalier, a handsome young officer; and I was led round and round an immense room, while music was playing, and the company bowing; and then—I sunk again into primitive obscurity.

But when I return to England, do not wonder if you hear of me under a title unknown before. Have you not often heard of a Count Jones, and a Baroness Smith ?-or have you not known these same illustrious names to be merged in an unpronounceable foreign title? Well, there is a possibility that some of these persons may have been made members of an order as I have been; so I pray you to recognise me, in case you hear me announced as Grefyinnan Von Amaranta.

This order, however, was founded by Queen Christina, in one of those dissipated fits which alternated with fits of another character. It was founded after one of her entertainments, and included originally only fifteen noble persons of both sexes. Nobility is still a requisite for admission; this order is a noble, or aristocratic one, being confined to the higher classes of society. So, you see, it requires, and does not confer, a certain degree of station or rank; and, therefore, though I may wear Queen Christina's medal, I fear I cannot even take the feminine title for Chevalier, on the ground of having been admitted into the knighthood of the most noble order of the Amaranth.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »