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PAGE 2

Jenny Lind: The Swedish Nightingale
by [?]

But here Jenny became insistent, for from all the conversation she had heard between her mother and the actress, she had gathered that mounting those steps would mean something new and interesting, and at last she had her way. They sought and found the studio of Croelius, and Jenny sang for him a bit from one of Winter’s operas, and the teacher, deeply moved by the purity and strength of the child’s voice, at once set a date for her first lesson with him.

After only a few lessons, Croelius became so proud of his pupil that he took her to sing for Count Puecke, manager of the Court Theatre, hoping that this powerful man might be so impressed with the child’s voice that he would do something to push her forward quickly into public notice. One can picture the interview between Count Puecke, businesslike and abrupt, and little Jenny, then plainly dressed and awkward, far from pretty, and too bashful even to lift her eyes to meet the keen glance of the Count. Looking coldly from her to Croelius, the Count asked:

“How old is she?”

“Nine years old,” answered Croelius.

“Nine!” echoed the Count. “Why, this is not a nursery. It is the king’s theatre.”

Then with another glance at Jenny he asked coldly, “What should we do with such an ugly creature? See what feet she has, and then her face! She will never be presentable. Certainly we can’t take such a scarecrow.”

Croelius, indignant at such brutality, put a protecting arm around the girl and said proudly, “If you will not take her, I, poor as I am, will myself have her educated for the stage,” and turning, was about to leave the room when the Count commanded him to remain and let him hear what the child could do.

Trembling with fear of the result, Jenny sang the simplest song she knew, and when she finished the Count was silent, for the lovely quality of the voice he had just heard, had deeply moved him. Rising, he shook hands with both teacher and pupil, and as quick in his generosity as in his brusqueness, he at once announced that she was to be admitted into the theatrical school connected with the Royal Theatre, and to be placed under the special instruction of the operatic director, Herr Berg, and his assistant, the Swedish composer, Lindblad.

Small wonder that Jenny left the building in a flutter of excitement, or that Croelius was as beaming now as he had been depressed before, and he lost no time in seeing that his little pupil was placed according to the instructions of the great Count Puecke.

It was the custom of the Royal Theatre to board its pupils out, and as Jenny’s mother was no longer a governess and had returned to Stockholm, the girl lived at home, together with several other pupils of the Royal Theatre, and for two years worked so hard and accomplished such wonders in the development of her voice that she became known as a musical prodigy.

During the year she entered the Royal Theatre she acted in a play called “The Polish Mine,” and the next year in another, and the press spoke of her acting as showing fire and feeling far beyond her years. She also sang in concerts, in that way helping to pay for her board and clothes.

At the theatre she was taught all branches necessary to her profession, and not only did she have an exquisite voice, but whatever role she undertook was conceived with bold originality of style. Then when a golden future of triumph seemed stretching out before her, came a crushing disaster. All of a sudden her glorious voice was gone!

Whatever may have been the cause, the fact remained, and Jenny at twelve showed her fineness of character by the way she faced the cruel disappointment, and continued with her instrumental work, and with such exercises as were fitted to the remnant of voice she still possessed. Faithfully, persistently, she worked for four long years, only hoping now for smaller rewards instead of the great operatic triumph which had been her earlier ambition, trying to achieve results as conscientiously as before.