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This is All-Fool's day in Sweden as well as in England, but in Sweden the first of April has a significancy which we transfer, I know not how, to Lady-day; I mean that it is flitting day; that word "flitting" being nearly the same in Swedish as it is in English.
The beginning of April, consequently, renews in great degree the bustle of October; it is sooner over, certainly, for now neither provisions are to be laid in, confections made, nor clothing prepared. Still, this is the half yearly term when a general change takes place; that of October is from summer to winter; this of April is from winter to summer.
My old hostess is once more in a glorious fuss: she has lost some of her lodgers, and is employed to sit by while a lady of twenty-one years of age, who has just been divorced from one husband, receives the gentleman who aspires to be her second.
"Why was she divorced?" I ask.
"Her husband was a tyrant," is the answer.
Perhaps our lawyers would get more employment if this plea held good in England.
Karin says I ought to flit too, and that she will flit with me; but I am waiting for the spring, and then I shall travel, not flit
Servants now are changing places; poor little Gusta comes to bid me good-bye; takes my hand, bends low, and touches it with her lips; and then, with many good wishes, departs to seek her daily bread elsewhere. How little we can realise a state like this! Living with and for strangers for a few months; being fed and paid by them, serving their interests, becoming acquainted with all their domestic and private concerns,—pleasing, conciliating, liking or disliking them; and acting the same thing. over and over again with others. Such is domestic servitude in its lightest features.
VOL. II. x
Adieu, Gusta; be happy and be good. You will be dressed up for a fancy ball, I dare say, in your next place also.
I have already said that the words "I have not time," are most seldom heard in London, where most business is done, and oftenest heard in Stockholm, where least business is done. A man has brought me home an ill-done piece of work; I want him to put it right; he says literally, "My time is my money." I reply, "Yes, but you must give your time for your money." "Ack! one cannot help it; one has not time here in Stockholm." So it is. Men of business have not time to attend to their business; doctors have not time to visit their patients; servants have no time to do their work.
But I am able to walk out now, and I must make use of my own time, which will not be very long in Stockholm, for in the changing month of April I, too, ought to change.
But this April month—in England, one of budding leaves and springing flowers, of weeping and smiling skies, of uncertain breezes, of all that is emblematic of gentle hope and fear—has quite another aspect in the far north. On the third day of April I walked over a part of Lake Malar, but at one spot near the shore, the ice broke, or had been broken, and my foot went in almost to the top of the half boot, as it is called, which ladies wear here, of a tremendous length.
." Madame must be careful," said my little attendant, Karin, "not to break the other leg now "—and with one as yet only partially restored, I fully felt the necessity of taking her advice.
"Ithink," said the tall Swede, who accompanied me, and pulled me out, "I think you must not walk on the ice any more; it will be unsafe to do so soon; but—yes, you can go on for a week or so still if you like it; I see the ice broke near to the spot those washerwomen have opened to wash in."
True enough, there were the poor creatures— and domestic servants have often to do the same— standing on the ice, through which they had cut a large opening, and there bathing the clothes they had to wash. What an occupation that must be in such a climate!
"This is the third of April," I remarked, looking round on the icy lake.
"Yes, we shall have spring early this year," added my companion.
I thought this now appeared to be likely: so as I wanted to see the forests once more in their winter dress, I got adrosky, and drove out to Haga; and there was that beautiful park, which owes its charms to nature, lying still deep, deep in winter snow—so silent, so very silent it was that day. Eooks were cawing in England in busy conclave, settling the affairs of their nation; birds were singing, leaves and blossoms opening,—but here, not the flap of a bird's wing, not the chirrup of an insect was heard. The lake was still an icy plain, with its hillocks of snow; the undulating grounds and dark rocks rose up, and sunk down, but all bore the same thick white burden. Not a blade of grass, not the most distant vestige of a bud, was to be seen. The enormous pines and great dark firs were all that seemed to triumph over winter. Unloved in summer, they seemed while unloved still to bear stern witness to their own superiority, and to preach a silent homily over the dead and joyless things whose leaves had danced in the summer sunshine, and cheated us into admiration and love. Up they rose, so high and firm, with their roots in the