National Geographic : 1934 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE gathered together in the Old World and the New, music came into her blood and that of us all. She is an amateur singer of note, all her children were born musical, and two of them have trained to become professional musicians. HOME FIRST, CAREER FORGOTTEN! The youngest of them was already well on the road to make a name for himself as a pianist in some European countries and farther afield. But then the brother who was managing the estate died, and when it became clear that they had to choose be tween sacrificing the family property and abandoning music, it was the latter that had to go to the wall. Now the singer goes about the fields, stables and cow house from morning till night, or she sits and plugs at figures in the office and makes superhuman exertions to balance expenditure and revenue. The pianist goes through the woods, his head, too, full of figures. He supervises felling and planting, and does not let him self be distracted by the song of the birds and the rustle of the wind in the firs. Not till the two come home in the evening, tired out by the day's long toil, do they allow themselves an hour's music at the big piano; but then the music is of the highest quality. It still happened sometimes that their mother joined in and sang second when one of her favorite songs was struck up. Neither age nor cares nor sorrows have conquered the good old-style training and the noble ring of her deep contralto. Over at the great table sat another of my mother's sisters, 76 years old-ethereal, spiritualized, and evergreen. She was either working at her latest book or read ing the proofs of her son's. She follows with never-failing interest the questions and spiritual movements of the day; and the books and magazines which are read aloud of an evening in this remote corner of "darkest Smaland" are on an astonishingly high level. Those people have not forgotten their ancient mission as pioneers of culture and spreaders of enlightenment; they remember that amid all the cares and worries of daily life there is "one thing which is necessary." On Saturday afternoons "the baroness's church carriage" was driven up to the door. It was of peculiar and rather comical struc ture, low and wide; it had been built for my aunt at a time when, owing to an injury to her foot which lasted a considerable time, she could not climb up into the high family barouche. Custom demanded that the driver of the "church carriage" leave off livery, and that he use two of the heavy cart horses; and, equally, that the pas sengers should be clad in their simplest and most unfashionable outer garments-per haps as an unconscious sign that they were on an errand of piety and introspection (see illustration, page 9). The carriage was filled with wreaths and bouquets of flowers which all had passed the morning picking and tying up, to be laid on the many graves of our family. The ceremonial was no mechanical rite, but something demanding loving considera tion; the dead had each of them to have the kind of flowers they liked, or which resembled them externally or inwardly. It was a long time before my aunt was satisfied with the result; she took her task with the utmost seriousness. Some of her children and grandchildren helped her, and while she went to and fro, and with her own hands tended the graves where rested her parents, her brothers and sisters, her husband and sons, and so many of her other relatives, once more she seemed to me to grow beyond the personal and incidental, and become a kind of living symbol of fidel ity and remembrance. CHURCH BELLS AND AUTUMN FLOWERS In her warm heart these departed all tarried, as alive as when they still walked the earth. As long as she was still there, none of them should be really dead and gone, none faded into oblivion. Just then the bells began to ring in the whitewashed tower of the old country church. Their sound was wafted out over the wood-encircled lake, which lay there so still and shining and reflected the little red cottages and the great pale-hued mansion. Everything was clear and clean-the autumn flowers gleamed bright against the rust-red timbers of the rectory, and among the crab apples and white-birch trunks in the paddock a gentle old man walked hand in hand with a couple of flaxen-haired, blue eyed little girls dressed in light-check cotton frocks. I drank it all in with greedy eyes and I felt with a sting in my heart that this was Sweden in essence, the land of my childhood and youth.