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Now this place I had been told would afford me a fine view from my rooms; but like many another delusion to which I had been subjected, this view had been invisible to me. I saw nothing but a dead wall, the top of an old house, the towers of the church, and the upper parts of the headless trees.
Grefven came to pay his evening visit, and informed me that the old building belonged to the Government, and had been let to a Professor, who used it as what is termed a pump room, for the sale of artificial mineral water of his own manufacture; but it was now sold and ordered to be taken down, and cleared away before the winter came on.
I was discontented then, so I only replied that I would rather the Government left it as it was; I did not like the noise of workmen.
"Oh!" said Grefven, "that will go quickly on, and you shall be content when the view is open."
"View!" I repeated, rather scornfully, "of some trees without heads."
However, the workmen came; but I must say the noise did not; and certainly the removal of the rickctty old building, with its white moulded wooden roof, was an unthought-of source of interest and amusement to me in my solitary confinement. Twenty times, at least, in the day did I long for the power of turning on a dozen, or half-a-dozen, English workmen, to astonish those who were there at work! One stout-looking young fellow particularly amused me. He would carry a brick in both hands along the top of the house, and letting it fall down before me, stand and look at it as if considering whether it took up the exact position on the ground which it ought to take. Having considered that, he would turn his head and talk to a comrade, who always looked back from his work also, as if deciding on the conduct of the brick. The pieces of wood, which were carried separately and precipitated in the same way, gave still more scope for observation and reflection, as they made more rattle in coming down, and took more time in adjusting themselves, apparently, on the heap to which they were added beneath.
Then, each time he descended from the roof, a black bottle looked out of his coat pocket, was applied to his mouth, and held up to a fellow workman.
One cannot help at every moment being reminded of Irish workmen and Irish drivers, when looking at those of Sweden. The same "It-willdo-well-enough" system is curiously apparent. The carts, too, are like those used in Ireland—at at least some years ago—and the wild look of the drivers, with their long hair, is just what may be seen dashing through the streets of Dublin, either with carts, or with the singular machines called jaunting-cars.
The manner in which goods are loaded, is quite on the same system. One is now stopping under my window filled up with coopers' wares, tubs and buckets, and ladies' bonnet-boxes. One of these has dropped off three times within my own sight; each time a stoppage of at least three minutes has occurred. The article has been, after some seeming consideration—for the Swedes do not seem to do things without consideration— thrown up, and pushed into a spot where it has tottered about, and from whence it has soon descended. This one specimen just happens to be passing; it is nothing in comparison of others. I have followed hand-carts in the street, the progress of which has been literally strewn with little fish; and I believe I may challenge any one who has ever travelled with hired horses in Sweden to declare that the harness had not to be altered very soon after they started. And yet they seem to be talking about things so long that one would fancy, if it be true that in the multitude of counsellors is wisdom—that goods might be packed or travellers driven off, without the one or the other being liable to roll about the roads.
While I was writing this, my little attendant Karin, whose gesticulations first got me to understand Swedish, comes hastily in, exclaiming—
"Madame, Madame, the three kings!"
""What says Karin?"
"The three kings, Madame; they are going to be drawn out. Madame shall come and see. Madame shall stand at the window."
I stood beside her, and saw about two score soldiers in a double line, pulling by long ropes. Presently, out of the half-demolished building came a truck bearing three statues—I think, those of Charles XII., Gustavus Adolphus, and Gustavus III.
Charles XIII., or Carl Treton, whose ugly statue adorns the place before my windows, is still accused by the liberal party as being accessory to the assassination of the latter, his brother; and a paper, which I believe aims to be the "Punch" of Sweden, took occasion of this incident of the statues, to remark how pertinaciously he turned his back on his royal predecessors.
At the beginning of November the boughs on the headless trees were still green. No frost had set in, no snow fallen. The terrors of a Swedish winter appeared to me quite exaggerated, and the cold of a frosty September had been much greater than that of the end of October.
The heat of my rooms I found almost intolerable; in the day time I was stupefied, and the nights found me awake; in the bright, light clear nights of the north, I was roving through the rooms, or gazing from the windows, to the horror of my cold-dreading hosts.
To-day, however, the 8th day of November, the weather is cold enough to herald the approach