A few seconds later the grebe-nest lay near land, but the little oarsman did not leave it, but sat huddled up between branches and straw. Jarro too held himself almost immovable. He was actually paralysed with fear lest the rescuer should be discovered.
The next thing which occurred was that a flock of wild geese came along. Then Jarro woke up to business, and warned them with loud shrieks; but in spite of this they flew backward and forward over the shallows several times. They held themselves so high that they were beyond shooting distance; still the farm-hand let himself be tempted to fire a couple of shots at them. These shots were hardly fired before the little creature ran up on land, drew a tiny knife from its sheath, and, with a couple of quick strokes, cut loose Jarro’s halter. “Now fly away, Jarro, before the man has time to load again!” cried he, while he himself ran down to the grebe-nest and poled away from the shore.
The hunter had had his gaze fixed upon the geese, and hadn’t observed that Jarro had been freed; but Caesar had followed more carefully that which happened; and just as Jarro raised his wings, he dashed forward and grabbed him by the neck.
Jarro cried pitifully; and the boy who had freed him said quietly to Caesar: “If you are just as honourable as you look, surely you cannot wish to force a good bird to sit here and entice others into trouble.”
When Caesar heard these words, he grinned viciously with his upper lip, but the next second he dropped Jarro. “Fly, Jarro!” said he. “You are certainly too good to be a decoy-duck. It wasn’t for this that I wanted to keep you here; but because it will be lonely in the cottage without you.”
THE LOWERING OF THE LAKE
Wednesday, April twentieth.
It was indeed very lonely in the cottage without Jarro. The dog and the cat found the time long, when they didn’t have him to wrangle over; and the housewife missed the glad quacking which he had indulged in every time she entered the house. But the one who longed most for Jarro, was the little boy, Per Ola. He was but three years old, and the only child; and in all his life he had never had a playmate like Jarro. When he heard that Jarro had gone back to Takern and the wild ducks, he couldn’t be satisfied with this, but thought constantly of how he should get him back again.
Per Ola had talked a good deal with Jarro while he lay still in his basket, and he was certain that the duck understood him. He begged his mother to take him down to the lake that he might find Jarro, and persuade him to come back to them. Mother wouldn’t listen to this; but the little one didn’t give up his plan on that account.
The day after Jarro had disappeared, Per Ola was running about in the yard. He played by himself as usual, but Caesar lay on the stoop; and when mother let the boy out, she said: “Take care of Per Ola, Caesar!”