This was more than the crows had expected. “Do you think it can be silver?” said they, and their eyes were ready to pop out of their heads with greed; for remarkable as it may sound, there is nothing in the world which crows love as much as silver money.
“Hear how it rattles!” said the fox and rolled the crock around once more. “Only I can’t understand how we shall get at it.” “That will surely be impossible,” said the crows. The fox stood and rubbed his head against his left leg, and pondered. Now perhaps he might succeed, with the help of the crows, in becoming master of that little imp who always eluded him. “Oh! I know someone who could open the crock for you,” said the fox. “Then tell us! Tell us!” cried the crows; and they were so excited that they tumbled down into the pit. “That I will do, if you’ll first promise me that you will agree to my terms,” said he.
Then the fox told the crows about Thumbietot, and said that if they could bring him to the heath he would open the crock for them. But in payment for this counsel, he demanded that they should deliver Thumbietot to him, as soon as he had gotten the silver money for them. The crows had no reason to spare Thumbietot, so agreed to the compact at once. It was easy enough to agree to this; but it was harder to find out where Thumbietot and the wild geese were stopping.
Wind-Rush himself travelled away with fifty crows, and said that he should soon return. But one day after another passed without the crows on crow-ridge seeing a shadow of him.
KIDNAPPED BY CROWS
Wednesday, April thirteenth.
The wild geese were up at daybreak, so they should have time to get themselves a bite of food before starting out on the journey toward Oestergoetland. The island in Goosefiord, where they had slept, was small and barren, but in the water all around it were growths which they could eat their fill upon. It was worse for the boy, however. He couldn’t manage to find anything eatable.
As he stood there hungry and drowsy, and looked around in all directions, his glance fell upon a pair of squirrels, who played upon the wooded point, directly opposite the rock island. He wondered if the squirrels still had any of their winter supplies left, and asked the white goosey-gander to take him over to the point, that he might beg them for a couple of hazelnuts.
Instantly the white one swam across the sound with him; but as luck would have it the squirrels had so much fun chasing each other from tree to tree, that they didn’t bother about listening to the boy. They drew farther into the grove. He hurried after them, and was soon out of the goosey-gander’s sight—who stayed behind and waited on the shore.
The boy waded forward between some white anemone-stems—which were so high they reached to his chin—when he felt that someone caught hold of him from behind, and tried to lift him up. He turned round and saw that a crow had grabbed him by the shirt-band. He tried to break loose, but before this was possible, another crow ran up, gripped him by the stocking, and knocked him over.