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headless trees no longer seemed to be decapitated: the great bronze figure of King Carl still stood with its back to me, but he no longer looked so dark, heavy, and clumsy; for on his shoulders he wore an ermine cape, and on his head a snowy crown; and the four great lions which crouch around him, with their ribs as distinct as the ribs of Swedish animals generally are, had each a lump of snow in their open mouths, and each clutched a snow-ball in their enormous paws. Here, at this early hour, only
"The sentry paced his lonely rounds;"
but before long all the young life of Stockholm was awake, and abroad, and rolling and plunging in the snowy Place. Never before did I imagine there could be such life in Stockholm; for in public —that is to say, even in the streets—the children are so very quiet, and the boys seem to be their fathers in miniature. But now they were boys; the snow had given them life; and I need only look at Carl Tretons Torg to learn that Swedish spirits rise as the thermometer falls. All sorts of people were walking over it with double briskness, tracing countless paths over its depths; the boys, and even the dogs, lay down and rolled in it,
VOL. II. E
scarcely shaking it from them as they rose. I stood and laughed at the antics of both animals, who seemed alike to welcome it as an old, dear friend.
Towards evening I heard a soft jingle of bells; I ran to the window, and saw a countryman driving in a sledge. We had had no snow since the night, but the traveller was one white mass: it had fallen heavily not far off.
And now came to me the most delightful relief; the horrid rattle of carts was heard no more; softly and quick went the sledges in their stead, and the tinkle of the bells, which the horses are bound to carry, was a pleasant exchange to both my head and ears.
The touch of the cold on going out was something strange to me at first; it is so unlike English cold. There is something gigantic in this touch when it first is felt; so strong, so clear, so vigorous, this cold soon became pleasant to me; I enjoy it a thousand times more than the dark, damp weather which has passed.
My view has more than realised my Grefve's prediction; it is becoming my constant companion; and, much as I am disappointed with my quarters in other respects, I am sure I shall never re
. gret that I am here, since in no other locality in Stockholm could I have such a view as this. What can persons do who are only able to see into their opposite neighbours' windows, or who are immured in a court? Through the day my prospect is animated; at night it is like the fairy tale descriptions of crystal regions, illuminated with myriads of lights.
At the extremity of the large open Place, or Torg, before my window, is the water which is the junction of the Malar Lake with the Baltic Sea; the former sweeping in a strong current beneath Norrbro to cast itself into the latter. In that water a number of trading vessels are laid up for the winter, and their tall, slight masts and spars, closely ranged together, appear through the snowy scene like the bare trees of a forest. Above . these appear the heights of Sodor, now an unfashionable, but still very considerable part of the capital, up which the many-windowed houses climb in the most curious inequality; while on the highest point stands that large building, or place of amusement, called Mosebacken, or the Hill of Moses, the view from which is one of the finest to be had in Stockholm, and the lights from which are a great additional, though unpaidfor, source of pleasure to me.
"Madame," says Karin, with her hand waving from the floor to the ceiling, "lights here, lights there, lights everywhere; does Madame think that is pretty?"
"Yes, I do; does Karin think so?"
"I think it is heavenly beautiful!" was her reply. "But Madame has it finer than that in Madame's own country."
These heights of Sodor, or Sodormaln, with the two great churches, the great dome of St. Catherine's and the tower of St. Maria's, bound my view in a straight forward line; but the houses going up rocky acclivities, begin close to the water's edge, and directly before them more vessels are moored. The houses being all inhabited in storeys, or what in Edinburgh is called flats, present at night a shining row of lights from each floor; and this being the case generally in Stockholm, where the windows are without shutters and often without blinds, the effect is just what Karin described with her hand far better than I can do with my pen—lights here, lights there, lights everywhere. Behind the headless trees are rows of fashionable houses, for I inhabit Normalm, or the northern quarter, which is the "West End" of Stockholm; and from these houses, and from the Palace, which stands rather at the side of my view, the lights also stream out; so that a general and beautiful illumination is nightly presented to me from my windows, while on issuing into the streets all is darkness; for Stockholm is without gas, and still lighted as Paris was in 1815. Gas, however, is now about to be laid.
And now, in this animated season, the place is interspersed with moving figures and curious sights, which diversify the uniformity of the headless trees that were lately the sole object of my contemplations, and the decline and fall of whose leaves I attentively considered. It is a kaleidescope at which I look again and again, and see something new and amusing. In the day time it is pleasant, and in the evening it is beautiful.
"And so you are content," says Grefven; "it is well even that pleases you."
And I reply, "Yes, with this I am content."