And think! Just think! Osa the goose girl and little Mats, who were his comrades last year! Indeed the boy would have been glad to know if they still were anywhere about here. Fancy what they would have said, had they suspected that he was flying over their heads!
Soon Jordberga was lost to sight, and they travelled towards Svedala and Skaber Lake and back again over Goerringe Cloister and Haeckeberga. The boy saw more of Skane in this one day than he had ever seen before—in all the years that he had lived.
Whenever the wild geese happened across any tame geese, they had the best fun! They flew forward very slowly and called down: “We’re off to the hills. Are you coming along? Are you coming along?”
But the tame geese answered: “It’s still winter in this country. You’re out too soon. Fly back! Fly back!”
The wild geese lowered themselves that they might be heard a little better, and called: “Come along! We’ll teach you how to fly and swim.”
Then the tame geese got mad and wouldn’t answer them with a single honk.
The wild geese sank themselves still lower—until they almost touched the ground—then, quick as lightning, they raised themselves, just as if they’d been terribly frightened. “Oh, oh, oh!” they exclaimed. “Those things were not geese. They were only sheep, they were only sheep.”
The ones on the ground were beside themselves with rage and shrieked: “May you be shot, the whole lot o’ you! The whole lot o’ you!”
When the boy heard all this teasing he laughed. Then he remembered how badly things had gone with him, and he cried. But the next second, he was laughing again.
Never before had he ridden so fast; and to ride fast and recklessly—that he had always liked. And, of course, he had never dreamed that it could be as fresh and bracing as it was, up in the air; or that there rose from the earth such a fine scent of resin and soil. Nor had he ever dreamed what it could be like—to ride so high above the earth. It was just like flying away from sorrow and trouble and annoyances of every kind that could be thought of.
The big tame goosey-gander that had followed them up in the air, felt very proud of being permitted to travel back and forth over the South country with the wild geese, and crack jokes with the tame birds. But in spite of his keen delight, he began to tire as the afternoon wore on. He tried to take deeper breaths and quicker wing-strokes, but even so he remained several goose-lengths behind the others.
When the wild geese who flew last, noticed that the tame one couldn’t keep up with them, they began to call to the goose who rode in the centre of the angle and led the procession: “Akka from Kebnekaise! Akka from Kebnekaise!” “What do you want of me?” asked the leader. “The white one will be left behind; the white one will be left behind.” “Tell him it’s easier to fly fast than slow!” called the leader, and raced on as before.