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pickled fish, confectionary, preserves, &c, &c., to which ale and punch are generally added, being handed about with glasses of milk. At nine o'clock I came away, and had a long walk home, with a piercing wind driving a cloud of snow in my face; and having Jenny Lind for my companion; not the famous songstress, but a pretty girl of the same name, which is a common one here.
Another mode of hospitality here is coffee-drinking; a curiously universal one in the country. This supposes a visit after dinner, but by no means includes one for a whole evening.
A sort of double entendre, that much perplexes a stranger here, is the term Middag, which any English ear can at once perceive means mid-day, but which is also the term for dinner. Certainly, when the hour of noon simply is meant, the term "klockan tolf," or twelve o'clock, is generally used; but there are many exceptions to this; and, above all, embarrassment arises from French-speaking Swedes insisting on putting literally into French their own Swedish phrases. Thus a lady told me to expect a literary native apres midi. I took that to signify any time after noon; and consequently waited in the house, though he had intended to come at seven o'clock in the evening. She wished to signify by "apres midi," apres diner, but put the Swedish, literally into French.
This literalization is sometimes rather provoking here. Tor. instance, when in speaking to a foreigner, they will be so polite as to call Drottninggatan "la rue de la reine," or "Queenstreet," one may find oneself quite at a loss in inquiring for the place one wants. Only think if we were to turn the names of our streets and squares into the respective languages of the foreigners who come to London!
Soon after I came to Stockholm, I met a young man in a shop who told me he spoke English. I inquired my way to a place I wanted to find, and he told me to go over "Water-street." I never was more puzzled; but found, to my amusement,, that he meant to put into English Norrbro, which literally is" North Bridge.'' Norrbro I could have found in Stockholm without difficulty, but under its translated name of Waterstreet, it was as unknown to the English stranger as to the Swedish natives.
But the term mid-day is liable to a double signification; and, having once mistaken it, I took care afterwards to be sure that it did not mean klockan tolf, instead of dinner.
A Swede brought me an invitation, as he said, to dinner, from a clergyman; I told Karin I should not be at home, and she told me she would go out to enjoy herself in consequence. The Swede took me to the Priest's. Soon after we came in, we were presented with chocolate, which I thought a rather heavy preparative for dinner. This was served twice with cakes. So something whispered to me that the dinner had been an illusion. And so it proved; for at the hour of middag — three o'clock — the clergyman informed me he had an office in the church; and I much fear I deprived the good man of his middag, while he lost me my dinner.
We went off to a restaurant. Karin was gone out, and the Swede who had brought me could not take me to his house; for it was, in fact, washing week; and when a Swede tells you it is washing week, you see a dim perspective of a thousand Mrs. Caudles; for such a thing as a Swedish washing week is, Mr. Caudle himself could hardly imagine.
The fact is, that washing week or not, there are not many plain Swedish housekeepers who would, to use a horrid vulgarism, ask a stranger in under such circumstances to take "pot-luck," as an English one might do; simply because the Swede's vanity causes him to think sometimes more of what he can give to the stranger, while the Englishman's pride makes him believe that the stranger must take him as he finds him.
It is so dark I can write no longer. It is just two o'clock in the afternoon of the shortest day. It was quite daylight at ten this morning; now I am going to dine by lamp light.
"That is nothing at all strange to you," says my hostess, "for in London the streets are lighted up all day long in winter because of the fog. Yes, my relation saw that. And lamps in the Booksellers' shops, too."
"True; I have seen them in Paternoster Bow of a winter afternoon," I reply.
"Yes, yes; you see, Madame, we know something here, also," Grefvinnan gaily answers.
Jul-afton has come! "Well! I ought to be as glad as every one else.
It is strange that this Eve, a fast in our Church —that is to say, in the Catholic Church of England, as well as in other lands—is a feast here. It is rather an anti-Catholic custom: but so it is. All the joy, rejoicings, feastings, and offerings that take place among ourselves on that "happy morn" are anticipated in Sweden; where Jul-Afton is made the grand National and Family Festival, apparently without any religious association.
It is nearly six o'clock on Christmas Eve. I am alone in my apartments, looking from the win