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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