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Queen Ulrica And The Countess Steenbock






When Queen Ulrica was dead, her corpse was placed in the usual way in an
open coffin, in a room hung with black and lighted with numerous wax
candles; a company of the king's guards did duty in the ante-room. One
afternoon, the carriage of the Countess Steenbock, first lady of the
palace, and a particular favourite of the queen's, drove up from
Stockholm. The officers commanding the guard of honour went to meet the
countess, and conducted her from the carriage to the door of the room
where the dead queen lay, which she closed after her.

The long stay of the lady in the death-chamber caused some uneasiness;
but it was ascribed to the vehemence of her grief; and the officers on
duty, fearful of disturbing the further effusion of it by their
presence, left her alone with the corpse. At length, finding that she
did not return, they began to apprehend that some accident had befallen
her, and the captain of the guard opened the door. He instantly started
back, with a face of the utmost dismay. The other officers ran up, and
plainly perceived, through the half-open door, the deceased queen
standing upright in her coffin, and ardently embracing the countess. The
apparition seemed to move, and soon after became enveloped in a dense
smoke or vapour. When this had cleared away, the body of the queen lay
in the same position as before, but the countess was nowhere to be
found. In vain did they search that and the adjoining apartments, while
some of the party hastened to the door, thinking she must have passed
unobserved to her carriage; but neither carriage, horses, driver, or
footmen were to be seen. A messenger was quickly despatched with a
statement of this extraordinary circumstance to Stockholm, and there he
learnt that the Countess Steenbock had never quitted the capital, and
that she died at the very moment when she was seen in the arms of the
deceased queen.





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