While the farmer-folk were talking this over, Caesar lay before the fire. He raised his head and listened very attentively. When he thought that he was sure of the outcome, he walked up to the mistress, took her by the skirt, and led her to the door. “But Caesar!” said she, and wanted to break loose. “Do you know where Per Ola is?” she exclaimed. Caesar barked joyfully, and threw himself against the door. She opened it, and Caesar dashed down toward Takern. The mistress was so positive he knew where Per Ola was, that she rushed after him. And no sooner had they reached the shore than they heard a child’s cry out on the lake.
Per Ola had had the best day of his life, in company with Thumbietot and the birds; but now he had begun to cry because he was hungry and afraid of the darkness. And he was glad when father and mother and Caesar came for him.
Friday, April twenty-second.
One night when the boy lay and slept on an island in Takern, he was awakened by oar-strokes. He had hardly gotten his eyes open before there fell such a dazzling light on them that he began to blink.
At first he couldn’t make out what it was that shone so brightly out here on the lake; but he soon saw that a scow with a big burning torch stuck up on a spike, aft, lay near the edge of the reeds. The red flame from the torch was clearly reflected in the night-dark lake; and the brilliant light must have lured the fish, for round about the flame in the deep a mass of dark specks were seen, that moved continually, and changed places.
There were two old men in the scow. One sat at the oars, and the other stood on a bench in the stern and held in his hand a short spear which was coarsely barbed. The one who rowed was apparently a poor fisherman. He was small, dried-up and weather-beaten, and wore a thin, threadbare coat. One could see that he was so used to being out in all sorts of weather that he didn’t mind the cold. The other was well fed and well dressed, and looked like a prosperous and self-complacent farmer.
“Now, stop!” said the farmer, when they were opposite the island where the boy lay. At the same time he plunged the spear into the water. When he drew it out again, a long, fine eel came with it.
“Look at that!” said he as he released the eel from the spear. “That was one who was worth while. Now I think we have so many that we can turn back.”
His comrade did not lift the oars, but sat and looked around. “It is lovely out here on the lake to-night,” said he. And so it was. It was absolutely still, so that the entire water-surface lay in undisturbed rest with the exception of the streak where the boat had gone forward. This lay like a path of gold, and shimmered in the firelight. The sky was clear and dark blue and thickly studded with stars. The shores were hidden by the reed islands except toward the west. There Mount Omberg loomed up high and dark, much more impressive than usual, and, cut away a big, three-cornered piece of the vaulted heavens.