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saw anything like that before. You have no snow in England. I know that: no sun eithernothing but fog!”
As I never contradict the good woman's assertions, knowing it would be impossible when they are once made to change their character, I let judgment go by default; and her verdict against English snow and sunshine was unquestioned by her hearers. I only looked from the window of her great salong, and said “How frightful!”
Frightful !—not at all; we shall have it good now : that is beginning. The snow will rest on the ice now, and then it will freeze and become hard; and so we shall have a good winter, and the industry will go on. Yes, Madame, that is better than the fog of England. We can travel on sledges here; and we have warm stoves, which you never could learn to make or to use in England; so that one of our ministers who went to London was all roasted-yes, roasted—on one side, and frozen on the other. Yes, that is true; he never recovered it, and has the liver-complaint to this day!”
“Was that the overdone, or underdone side ?" I inquired, very gravely.
But my hostess was pouring forth such a volume of information to the rest of her auditory, on England and the English, that my query remained unanswered.
“ KARIN ! Karin ! Karin !”
“Hvad vill, Madame ?” “Ack! Hvad skall jag göra ?” “That can I not right well say to Madame.”
Such was Karin's reply to my question—what shall I do?
“I am to be presented at the Court of Sweden at precisely two o'clock this afternoon, Karin! I have nothing ready—just ingenting !”
The girl looked at me with a grave expression that said plainly enough—“Yes; what, indeed, can be done with you ?" and then she turned and walked out of the room in silence.
Presently came Grefvinnan, whose unusually calm exterior looked as if it were put on to meet the emergency of the moment, and to allay my state of fermentation.
“Madame, Karin has without doubt mistaken you. It is not so certain, perhaps, that you are to be presented this very day at our Court ?”
“This note says so," I answered, looking down at a very small billet which had just been brought to me by the charming old Swede, who calls himself Courier to the British Embassy. It was then eleven o'clock, and as I glanced hastily over it, I saw that I was to be presented at Court, and must be ready at two o'clock to attend Sir E. L. to the Palace.
Alas ! I murmured to myself, how very unintelligible to great people are the difficulties of the little !
My hostess stood in the centre of the floor, with her eyes fixed upon it, and her chin in her hand.
" You have a black dress."
"A train you must have. A wide train is very beautiful, but some cannot so well afford that.
it over your arm—so (and she shows me the fashion, with an apron drawn over her arm); and when their Majesties come you must let it fall—50; and it should spread out well-s0; and then you must make
your reverences. And time the King, or Queen, or the Princes come to speak to you, you must let your train fall, and your long shawl should drop from your shoulders also.”
“But, Madame, I have got no train !" I almost screamed; for to be told what you must do with the all-important article which you do not possess, is very provoking.
The chin moved in the hand again. Swedish brains are fertile in expedients when what is vulgarly termed with us making shifts” is necessary. I fancy the good lady would soon have devised a means of supplying the deficient adjunct of my robe, either by hire or loan; for to go without it she knew was impossible; to decline so high an honour was a thing that could not enter into human calculations.
But in the midst of her rumination, a second glance at the billet I held in my hand, relieved my anxious breast. It was not to the Queen, it was to the Mistress of the Robes I was to be presented that afternoon.