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and Fogelberg are its chief statuaries; but it has had no Thorwaldsen, and certainly it is not in search of the fine arts that one comes to this land of the North; and painting is, perhaps, more backward than sculpture. There is some fine, and some very graceful, native statuary in the Boyal Museum.
When we returned to the assembly-room, from our inspection of the paintings, we were presented with some tableaux vivans—not those my hostess spoke of—and these were$ in my opinion, the best part of the entertainment, which, having begun with a lecture, closed with a little comedy or burlesque.
"Now," said Grefven, when the comic actor appeared, "there will be a lying-in on the stage."
I stared; and then, though seldom given to laughter at mistakes in speech, I could not forbear a laugh.
"What is the matter?" he said, rather annoyed. "Is not that what you call it—a lying-in —that is, a feminine lion?" *
"Oh! that is a lioness in English," I explained.
* Swedish—lejoninna—the j pronounced y.
"Well, there is no great difference," he rejoined.
So we had a vast variety for the sum of one and
eightpence. But I thought the best part of the entertainment was to be found in coming out.
The cold in the lower hall of entrance, where we had to put on cloaks, boots, capuchons, and that medley of precautionary wraps of which our servants disrobe and robe us again, was almost unendurable. The touch of the ground, or of the unwarmed flags in Sweden, penetrates one's frame in a manner that causes fear; and on such flags we had to stand for some minutes, because the man and his lantern had not arrived; and if the night was something brighter than the day, it is not thought respectable to walk out without a lantern going before you.
But when the lantern had come, and we got out on that square on the top of the high hill called Brunkeberg, in memory [of the execution thereon of the cruel Brunke, in those cruel times which humanity now shudders to read of—the scene was one that will be longer present to my memory than anything I saw or heard within doors.
The ground was deep in snow—snow frozen so
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soon that it is not tossed about or trodden down as it is in milder regions. Many sledges, covered and uncovered, were there in waiting; each not only having lamps in front, but attended also by a footman with the inevitable lantern, which, indeed, is necessary in entering the dark courts of the houses, or ascending the often dirty and dangerous stone stairs.
The royal sledge was attended by an outrider on a spirited horse, holding a very long and wildly flaming turpentine torch, the sparks from which were flung about with every plunge of the animal, while its streaming blaze fell over the snowy scene, with which it was quite in character. The wolf-skin clad coachmen, with their great fur caps and capes gemmed with snow, the tinkling bells, and the capering of the royal horse, which, frightened by the glare in his eyes, plunged about, flinging the sparks and streaming blaze hither and thither, "made up a scene more new and charming to me than anything I had seen in the assembly rooms—the feminine Hon included.
My companions, however—and I had a great many—thought I was very polite in trying to be pleased with such a cold, rough coming out as this; and Grrefven very often said I must find it not so good to have to walk in such strong cold. Whereas, it was just the part of the evening I most admired.
"Madame must not think that the ceiling will come down on Madame's head to-night, when Madame is sleeping," said little Karin the next day.
"If I do I shall call Karin to hold it up," I answered; "but why should I think that?"
"Yes; that is what I must say to Madame," said Karin, speaking very distinctly, and making me perfectly comprehend every -word. At my blunders she never laughs—at least not until she gets out of the room, when I hear her repeating what I said, and setting the party in the salong in a roar.
"See now, Madame: Groshandlarens daughter is betrothed, and shall soon be married. There will be dancing up there to-night, and then the ceiling will go so—so," and Karin stamped her little foot on the floor; and Grefvinnan said I must tell Madame not to be frightened, because in Madame's country they never dance, but sit so still—so still!"
Now, the voning, or storey over us, was occupied by a merchant, which term is implied by that of Groshandlare, as such a person is always- called, instead of our Mr. So-and-so.
"Groshandlarens daughter to be married!" I cried. "Can Zarin get me to see that? I will see a Swedish wedding."
"Nay, that I cannot do; but Madame shall speak of that to Grefvinnan."
To Grefvinnan, in due time, I applied—told her of what I had heard, and of my desire to witness the ceremony.
"That I fear you cannot do," she replied, "for only her relations will be present,
"I am so sorry; I should like to see a Swedish bride."
"That you can certainly do without any trouble."
"How? Shall I go to the church; that is all I wanted."
"To see the bride? At church! 0, no, Madame; our brides do not go to church; that is too public; they are married in the house. Our brides, Madame, are very modest."
I felt this a cut at England; and I hung my head, and tried to blush for all the poor brides who went to church there.